Michael Dunne says...
I wasn’t surprised by the players that were released yesterday by the club. They were largely the right decisions. I am also delighted that Aiden McGeady was offered a new deal.
If there was one player that I would have kept, it would have been Conor McLaughlin. McLaughlin has been a consistent performer whenever he played for the team. While he may not be the most elegant or talented player, he is a solid performer. He rarely makes mistakes and isn't afraid to put a tackle in.
Furthermore, McLaughlin is adaptable and can play in many positions. His versatility and fluidity could have been useful considering the fact that Lee Johnson isn’t afraid to change his formation and tactics.
I think he could have been a good squad option next season for a team in League One and another one year deal wouldn’t have been the worst piece of business. I assume his injury record may have gone against him in this situation though.
Malc Dugdale says...
Like Michael, I too was most surprised at the release of Conor McLaughlin when the list was published. When fit this season he showed some good signs and evidence why he performs at international levels, but I can only assume Johnson wants to add way more pace, creativity and youth to wing back options. While Connor did okay in bringing the ball forward at times, he’s no flyer like Hume can be across the other side of the paddock.
Hopefully his replacement keeps O’Nien out of defence for many years to come.
The next most surprising release name for me was Max Power, though the reason for this feeling is mainly due to his former stature in the team.
For the second proper season in a row (ignoring the PPG one as a wild card oddity) we are releasing the team captain, after previously doing that by selling the now promoted Honeyman to Hull. Is this the coach and ownership team telling Max and other captains to come that they want and need much more? Yes, I think it is.
Though Max is guilty of leading a team that has failed on back to back occasions since Honeyman’s departure, scenes like the Oxford dugout gesture show how much he cares about the club and its success.
He helped us to beat his home town club at Wembley in the EFL Trophy, but didn’t quite have enough in him to lead our squad of Parkinson cast-offs to even the play-off final.
While the coach has had questions levelled at him along the lines of “what does he say to the team at half time”, especially when we have seen on many occasions the second half be night and day compared to the first, the captain also has to take some blame for that inconsistency. A good leader rallies the troops and helps us convert momentum into a lead, and a lead into a secure three points with second and third goals locking down results. He owns the dressing room and - whether playing or not - makes the second half as much of a cauldron as the first.
We needed that last Saturday and didn’t get it.
We once again had too many draws this season, too many underwhelming performances, and a lack of leadership (and goals) from Max and the rest of his midfield mates has been a factor, so he has taken some of the hit for that.
I do wish Max all the best but on reflection, it is absolutely the right thing for all parties that we totally rebuild the midfield by shedding him, Maguire, Leadbitter and Scowen. The pace, power and attacking intent was never going to come from them, and if that is what KLD, Speakman and Johnson replace these lads with, I’m a happy fan before a ball is kicked.
Let’s see what comes in to replace them and how they click, as one issue with a release of such a large contingent is rebuilding team identity and strong bonds before next season.
There are lots of challenges to come, but without these lads pulling on a shirt we have a good chance of seeing something different next time around, which is just what we all need.
Phil Butler says...
Although I don’t have any major complaints about the retained list, indeed it’s probably the same list that the majority of Sunderland fans would have selected. One slight worry is the number of central midfielders we have released, and I would have liked Josh Scowen to be offered a new deal, even if just for another year in order to lessen the burden on our scouts in the upcoming transfer window.
Whilst Scowen had been a divisive player since arriving at the club 18 months ago, I do think that he is the only of the three released midfielders who had the ability to play a part in a high-pressing Sunderland side which Johnson and Speakman are seeking to build.
Admittedly his ability on the ball is limited, but Scowen consistently gets about the pitch in a way that has put the slow and ponderous midfield play of Power and Leadbitter to shame.
Add to this the fact that he had played for Johnson before, and the fact that it is always useful to have players who can hit the ground running rather than needing a few games to acclimatise to the club and I think it would have done us no harm to be on the lookout for two, rather than three, centre midfielders in the upcoming window.
If we replace him well then Scowen won’t be missed, but his re-signing could have been a low-risk signing going into a summer full of upheaval.