Who is Sunderland’s Player of the Season for 2019/20?
Martin Wanless says...
It’s certainly a tough question to answer, there aren’t any stand out candidates. No goalkeeper who’s had a great season, no 20-goal striker who’s shot us to promotion. Let’s just say it’s not a golden generation - more grubby bronze at best. Tin foil at worst.
Still, Luke O’Nein has once again impressed quietly - he’s looked more at home in the right wing back position since Parkinson pushed him slightly further forward, and is one of the few in the squad who could probably make the step up if and when we do. His attacking play is decent, and he has looked more solid defensively, albeit with the cover provided by Jordan Willis.
Willis is another who deserves a mention - he’s been the best of the signings we have made this year, and the pacey defender looks like another who can improve. He’s been a fixture at the heart of the defence, and really came into his own when he was given the marauding right central defensive role. In a couple of those games in January when it looked like Parkinson was getting it together he was outstanding, and has impressed me for a lot of this season. I think he’s been more let down by his defensive colleagues than anything else.
Lynden Gooch has had a productive campaign - he’s scored 11, including that belter at MK Dons, but his creativity has been lacking, only creating one goal for his teammates this season.
In that respect, he’s been outshone by my nomination for player of the season: Chris Maguire. He’s inconsistent, yes. And he had a really poor spell before Christmas and looked like he might be following Aiden McGeady out of the door. However playing in that role behind the striker has given him the freedom to do what he does best at this level - create and score.
He’s looked significantly fitter since Parkinson brought in Nick Allenby, and it showed in his performances. We all know Maguire is, on his day, a standout performer in league one, and his day has been cropping up more regularly since the turn of the year.
With 10 goals and 9 assists in 28 starts and 7 appearances from the bench, he’s by far and away our most effective offensive player. This season we won 70% of the games he started - a higher ratio than every player bar Gooch.
Confirming his signature for next season is, at least, a positive piece of news coming out of the club - something that’s becoming a rarity.
Jimmy Lowson says...
Chris Maguire – The stats speak for themselves ten goals and 12 assists in 35 league games is stellar production for a forward player. His split of goals and assists is an anomaly across all League One players. But even beyond the numbers watching Maguire this season felt different.
At 31, he seems to have found a new level of consistency and truly embraced the responsibility of being Sunderland’s best attacking weapon.
It was his individual brilliance that made the difference against Ipswich Town and his hat-trick against AFC Wimbledon was the most ruthless finishing display we’ve seen at this level.
Most of my ‘best’ memories from the season involve Maguire in a big way. He was the architect of pummelling’s against Rochdale, Wycombe Wanderers and Bristol Rovers. Luke O’Nien and Jordan Willis both had strong seasons, but neither match Maguire’s influence or importance.
Dan Sullivan says...
I would give Luke O’Nien the top spot over Chris Maguire.
There is no doubting Maguire’s ability or his contribution in goals and assists on those weeks where he turns up which is why I find him incredibly frustrating to watch at times.
In this last season alone there have been games where I have struggled to remember when he last touched the ball. At other times he has shown for the ball only to immediately pass it back, regardless of the pressure on the other man, as though it was still the pre-match warm-up.
We obviously love his goals because they are often spectacular and crucial but for every goal that lives long in the memory there are a handful of squandered chances where Maguire declines the easy assist and instead tries for the eye-watering difficult shot from outside the box.
By contrast, O’Nien has an attitude and a work rate that is first class, along with the talent to compete in this league and the Championship. His goal contributions set him above his fellow defenders and most of our midfield to boot.
He has strength, speed and stamina that puts me in mind of the season we had Danny Rose on loan. Best of all, every time he plays he looks thrilled just to have been picked. There’s no doubt that his youth and inexperience mean he lacks the star quality of Maguire, but O’Nien puts his heart and soul into every minute of every match, which is an increasingly rare sight at the Stadium of Light in recent years.
Micheal Dunne says...
Picking a player of the year for Sunderland this season is like picking your favourite Newcastle player, there a very few good options to choose from.
This season has been an utter stinker from almost start to finish bar January and February. Very few players played to their potential which led to it being the season it was. However, from my perspective, there are maybe three players who deserve a mention.
Luke O’Nien can do no wrong in my eyes in fairness but his performances throughout this season were relatively consistent. Bought as a midfielder, O’Nien has really excelled in the full back position. His energetic bursts up the flank were one of our more potent threats, and he chips in with goals too.
Jordan Willis looks like a player who could improve even more next season also. He has all the trademarks of a good footballer but maybe needs a more experienced player alongside him.
Our player of the season is clearly Chris Maguire for me. Since Phil Parkinson’s arrival, Maguire has been a revelation. His fitness levels have improved drastically, his form became a little more consistent, and he was far and away our most potent threat.
He is one of the few players in the Sunderland squad who can do something out of nothing. His goal against Ipswich a good example. He also scored a hat-trick in August which is another one of the more memorable moments of a forgettable second season in tier 3. Can he sustain this next season? It remains to be seen.
Maguire has been a man for the big occasion and has carried Sunderland to some big wins over the past two seasons. It is the hope that the form he showed in parts of this season can be shown throughout a full campaign. This is the doubt that lingers with most fans in relation to the Scot. That being said, Chris Maguire was our clear player of the year, an award I am sure he is thrilled to receive!
Malcolm Dugdale says...
I’d have to agree with Jimmy in the main. The stats speak for themselves and with the extra fitness that came in after Xmas, Chris Maguire was in my view likely to finish better than he started. He was the king, period.
I think most improved/young player of the year probably for the second year running would go to Luke O’Nein. He bleeds red and white already, and is a huge future asset if we can hold onto him. I’d like to see him used more in midfield, to see more of what was his supposed preferred position, but keep doing what you’re doing Luke. This also applies to Jordan Willis who has had a great start to his Sunderland career.
My view is let’s make Willis or Maguire skipper and get out of this godforsaken league ASAP.
Gary Engel says...
This season ended with no shot at promotion (via play-offs or otherwise) but given our levels of consistency, what else could we expect?
That goes for the majority of the team, unfortunately. But as someone said not so long ago, a lack of consistency is the reason many of the players play at League One level.
As for Player of the Season, Sunderland’s short-lived upturn in the middle of the season came about with Chris Maguire’s best form, taking the other lads by the bootstraps and helping fill the large Aiden McGeady shaped hole in terms of assists as well as goals.
He has the kind of fight that we used to see in our players. A player with old-fashioned guile and work rate. I always thought that Sunderland played better with Maguire at his best last season rather than McGeady. Although, that wasn’t anything to do with who was most talented, only the forward-line appeared to have much more movement and opposing defenders are never sure what position Maguire may take up next.
Luke O’Nien has also played well at times, but perhaps doesn’t quite have the same influence on the side. If he and Lynden Gooch can continue to learn from my choice for player of the season, Maguire, they can hopefully grow into the players we need for a promotion push.
Sean Brown says...
Luke O’Nien... fin.