Lee Johnson’s instant reintroduction of Aiden McGeady to the Sunderland line up in his first game against Wigan spoke volumes.
McGeady’s bizarre and belligerent ostracisation by Phil Parkinson was detrimental to the club and, ultimately, the former manager.
A team that had a dearth of creative sparks lost one of its key men due to what appeared a personal issue between the two.
Johnson appears to possess something that Phil Parkinson evidently lacked. The ability to see the bigger picture. Parkinson clearly disliked McGeady and did his utmost to detach him from the first team and gain promotion without him.
McGeady can now have the last laugh.
The ace in the pack
I believe that, on his the day, the Republic of Ireland international is the best player in this league by a country mile. Possibly playing below his level. A game-changer and a man who could single-handedly prop up and bolster Lee Johnson’s men’s chances of promotion.
The manager has stated that himself in the club's official podcast SAFC Unfiltered, where he labelled the ex-Celtic man as ‘the best player in the league.’
The question must be posed though as to why Phil Parkinson was so determined that McGeady would never play for the club again.
Was he outspoken? Was he a negative influence? Or was Parkinson threatened by his big personality?
We know from the Netflix documentary and previous podcasts and interviews that he has no problem saying things the way he sees it.
This is refreshing for a footballer, from whom you usually just hear the same standard vanilla lines, ensuring nothing controversial or anyway interesting is said.
On his own episode on SAFC Unfiltered, there were no holds barred.
McGeady went on a stinging and startling attack of the former manager, criticising his style and stating that training was not particularly positive. That they ‘didn’t do much.’
He also defended his reputation and insisted that there was no particular falling out. A clash of personalities? Perhaps.
McGeady is a curious character, a man who is not afraid to speak his mind and someone who also speaks eloquently with refreshing honesty.
His revelations make his year-long absence from the squad all the more curious.
However, it is now time for him and the club to look forward. What can he bring the to the squad now?
Creativity. Assists. Goals. Leadership. Experience.
These are all the things that were missing under Phil Parkinson, and all the things that can be brought back to the table by the winger's reintroduction.
McGeady’s return to the squad was an obvious call, and the right one.
His return has been solid, if not spectacular, though he does look impervious to previous issues that halted him.
Two goals and an assist aren’t groundbreaking but it is also a better return than 75% of the club’s strikers in a fraction of the games!
One can assume the more games he gets under his belt, the better his performances will be.
His influence was most telling in the club’s best performance under Lee Johnson and also this season, against Lincoln.
There was an obvious attacking strategy and a lovely balance up top where Charlie Wyke was flanked by two wingers, McGeady and Jack Diamond, who have the ability to pose many problems for League One full-backs.
The threat they caused that day against one of the best teams in the league teased supporters of what they could do against others if Johnson can get his system right.
The form of the team has been patchy since Johnson took over, and that is no surprise given everything that has happened.
It is likely that you won’t see any sort of consistency in the squad until February or March. In the meantime, if they are serious about promotion, Sunderland are going to need find ways to win games without playing spectacularly well.
This is where having someone like Aiden McGeady can make a difference.
We saw it many times under Jack Ross where his one little moment of magic got us over the line. It is likely that this will be needed again to give us any sort of chance of escaping this league at the third attempt.
With his contract up in the summer, and his age and wages not on his side, it is likely to be Aiden McGeady’s final season in the red and white.
After everything that has happened to him, he now has the opportunity to set the record straight – be a positive influence, a talisman and write a successful final chapter at the Stadium of Light.
After all the negativity that surrounded him, it is now time for Aiden McGeady to have the last laugh.