RR: So, Callum McFadzean... what type of player should Sunderland fans expect to see?
AL: At left wing-back, which is where I presume you intend on playing him, you’ll get a hard-working wing-back whose best skills are in delivering low crosses into the box. His partnership with Danny Mayor down the left wing – established in Greater Manchester and transported to Plymouth in summer 2019 – was great to watch.
Mayor was always the architect behind these moves, but McFadzean’s positioning was vital to their success. Watch this example, with McFadzean looping around the defence to be found by Mayor, putting the ball on a plate for Ryan Taylor at the near post:
His crossing from deep is fine, but wasn’t his biggest strength. That was his low crossing into the six-yard box. For more, read our analysis of him when he first joined Argyle.
RR: I noticed he can play both left wing back and at centre half - where would you say he was strongest?
AL: Would I describe McFadzean as a player who can play centre-back? No, not really. He’s not that bad there, and definitely can be used there in a back-three, but it’s as a last resort. We were light on centre-backs last year so used him when no others were available.
He could definitely play left-back, but I wouldn’t be tapping his shoulder as first choice in a back-three.
RR: He only played 26 times last season for Plymouth - why was that?
AL: Sort of complicated. I suppose I wonder if he would have lost his place at wing-back had he not been injured? He was one of our best players that season until then – I think he was even our top scorer at that point! But then, George Cooper finally got into the team and there’s a reason he was dubbed the “assist king”.
There’s more to it than that. It’s partly that we changed our style in October, and that meant less time for Mayor on the ball in the final third, and hence fewer opportunities for McFadzean to get into position to make his dangerous low crosses into the box.
But, fundamentally, he was just very unfortunate that we had a good wing-back and a great one at the same time.
RR: Why did he leave the club?
AL: He wanted to be closer to his family in the north west and had just had a child. That must have been very important to him because he took a huge risk in turning down a contract during a pandemic when the season was not even guaranteed to start again. He was offered a contract for a good reason, he’s by no means a bad player.
RR: Do you wish he had stayed?
AL: Had we not ended up signing Cooper permanently, an option that was not on the cards until right before the start of the season, then I would have wished he’d stayed.
He’s definitely a player I would have kept as a back-up, but once we got Cooper it was not a priority at all.
RR: Are you surprised he’s came to Sunderland?
AL: Not now that I know you were looking for a left wing-back. He’s definitely a good back-up player for you I’d think. Maybe it won’t work, but I’d be happy with him as a back-up at this level.
RR: What would you say to anyone who isn’t sure about this signing?
AL: Well I’m not totally sure about this signing myself, but that’s just my natural doubt.
You could sign Messi and there would be no guarantee that he’d play superbly. You could end up hitting long balls to him, or having to move him into CM leading to people moaning that he’s not got 30 goals this season etc etc.
I’d say, realise that you’re a third-season League One club operating in a limited budget now the wage limit has come into force, and that means you’re not going to sign as many names as you recognise, but that name recognition doesn’t equal a good signing.
How many of them knew the players in Wycombe’s squad, or Oxford’s squad?
McFadzean fits the profile of who you should be signing as a back-up. That doesn’t mean he will achieve that, but that he’s more likely to do it than a player whose name you recognise but is well past it.