Sunderland thrashed Doncaster Rovers 4-1 on Saturday at the Stadium of Light, in front of prospective new owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus. The result moved the Black Cats into the playoff positions, leapfrogging Charlton who lost to Gillingham, with the club now just five points away from the automatic promotion places.
Charlie Wyke stole the headlines scoring four times, but each of his goals was assisted by Aiden McGeady. The Irishman was unlucky not to come away with five assists, as Lynden Gooch wasted a one-vs-one opportunity. Despite scoring an unfortunate own goal, Lee Burge also came away from the match with credit after saving two second-half Doncaster penalties.
21 GOALS! Is it now imperative Sunderland tie Charlie Wyke to a new contract?
At the start of this season if you had told me Charlie Wyke would score four goals in one match I would have laughed, and rightly so, but the ex-Bradford striker was clinical in front of goal against Doncaster and is now League One’s top goal scorer.
The 28-year-old has scored 13 goals in 14 matches since Lee Johnson’s appointment in December, a miraculous run of form considering he only scored 11 goals in his first two seasons with Sunderland.
Wyke is the first Sunderland player to break 20 goals since Darren Bent during the 2009/10 season, plus he is the first to score two hattricks in the same season since Marcus Stewart during the club’s Championship winning season in 2004/05.
However, his brilliant goal-scoring consistency has prompted a very important question - do Sunderland now need to start putting together a new contract for Wyke to avoid other clubs picking him up on a free transfer in July?
Sunderland are in a difficult predicament with contracts, as the club’s plans will depend solely on whether we achieve promotion, but given his run of form you would imagine the club would desire to retain Wyke regardless of that.
Now the wage cap has been scrapped, Sunderland are now capable of renewing contracts such as Wyke’s that were previously problematic, but it depends on how early the club want to do their contract renewal process.
Should Lee Johnson wait and allow Wyke to continue his form to earn a better new deal, or should he tie him down early to prevent other clubs from developing interest in picking up our in-form striker on a free transfer?
Aiden McGeady was phenomenal - can he replicate the figures he achieved under Jack Ross?
Aiden McGeady was simply out of this world against Doncaster, as he continues to show just how wrong Phil Parkinson was to exclude him from the first-team.
His crossing was inch-perfect, he displayed fantastic skill, and his one-vs-one dribbling was sublime - the Irishman looked the sharpest he has been since returning.
The highlight of the match was his nutmeg before dispatching a phenomenal through ball to Lynden Gooch, who sadly could not convert.
His performance was a complete joy to watch and he has shown how much of a ‘cheat code’ he can be at this level when he is on his game - the best decision Lee Johnson has made since becoming manager was to bring McGeady back into the fold.
McGeady now has eight league assists and is now only behind ex-Sunderland captain George Honeyman with nine, despite only making his first league appearance in December.
Both he and Wyke are the two irreplaceable names on the team sheet at the moment, they are both in fantastic form and appear to be developing a brilliant connection.
The 34-year-old is known for his high standards, so my challenge to McGeady is to go and beat the 14 goals he scored in all competitions under Jack Ross in 2018/19.
He has already beaten his assists total, but imagine a Sunderland side with more players scoring consistently as well as Wyke?
The way he is performing currently I would not be surprised to see the Irishman score double figures, his form is absolutely integral to where Sunderland will finish this season.
Lee Burge saved two penalties - should the goalkeeping debate be put to bed?
Lastly, credit has to be awarded where it is due to Lee Burge, who saved two penalties against Doncaster on his return to the starting XI.
Lee Johnson questioned Burge’s recent performances by dropping him against Shrewsbury, but the ex-Coventry stopper reacted in the best manner in showing the manager he deserves to be his number one.
Despite achieving a high number of clean sheets, Burge has put in some questionable displays this season, but I respect that he continues to battle for his place and has gone about it in the right manner.
The 28-year-old could not have done anything for his unfortunate own goal, but he deserves praise for saving two penalties and preventing Sunderland from enduring a very nervous finish.
Admittedly, both penalty efforts were very poor, but Burge still had to deal with them and position his body correctly.
Hopefully, the changing around between Burge and Matthews is over and Sunderland can stick with the same goalkeeper until the end of the season.
Remi Matthews has shown he cannot be trusted on a regular basis and it would be a brave move to throw in Anthony Patterson during a promotion push, given his lack of first-team experience.
Burge is the best option Sunderland currently posses, keeping the same player in the same position consistently should help the defence solidify and allow Johnson to replicate the defensive stability the team had at the start of the season.