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A farewell to Denver Hume?

With a fee accepted and the player reportedly undergoing a medical, it seems almost certain that Denver Hume will leave Sunderland - is it a shame things haven’t worked out?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Rumours of a move for Denver Hume to Portsmouth have been circulating for the past week or more. Now, as we enter the last week of the transfer window, the latest news at time of writing is that a fee has been agreed and the player is travelling down to the south coast for a medical.

If he does make the move, I for one am in the party that will be sad to see him go. Denver, as it turns out seems to be a player that splits the opinion of the fan base, and not all for the same reasons.

Many fans have not forgiven him for the contract saga of last summer. To be honest, I didn’t have a problem when he held out to see if he got a better offer, either from Sunderland or elsewhere. He was injured at the time, and there was no urgent need to put pen to paper.

He could as was his right, bide his time and see what was out there, before committing to a new deal. He wasn’t on strike or demand a transfer or refuse to play. There were no toys out of the pram on his part, all he did was try to secure the best deal for himself. That is part of football, and it happens all the time.

Sunderland v Northampton Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Go back to just over a year ago, to the last days of Phil Parkinson’s reign and Denver had established himself as one of the bright lights of Parkinson’s team and was talked of as a young player with a bright, maybe even Premier League future. Remember, that this was a team that was without the banished Aiden McGeady and played a five-man defence every week, giving the full-backs licence to push forward.

Hume flourished under such a system, and we are all familiar with what he is capable of driving forward. The defensive side of his game improved too as he gained more experience, because there is one thing that is forgotten when criticism is aimed his way. That is, the 2019-20 season was his only full season of senior football, and not even a full one at that after the league season was abandoned due to covid.

I’m sure I have made the point before, but Denver Hume was the only Sunderland player to flourish under Phil Parkinson.

They say time stands still for no man, but in the case of our homegrown left-back, the last year has stood very much still.

In Lee Johnson’s first game in charge, he was injured in the 30th minute and did not return until the end of the season, when he was rushed back into a defence desperately short of numbers. Perhaps inevitably he was injured again after a few games.

Still injured at the start of this season, it has only been in the last month or two that he has been fit enough to return the bench for matchdays, and made an appearance memorable for all the wrong reasons in the cup tie at Arsenal.

Nutmegged three times when he certainly wasn’t match fit, made him the butt of some gallows humour and to be fair, I’m not sure what kind of difference fitness makes to a player keeping their legs closed. Keep your replies clean, please.

Arsenal v Sunderland - Carabao Cup Quarter Final
Stay clever - keep them together
Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images

Watching the game on Saturday against Portsmouth, I couldn't help thinking it was a game in which he would have made a strong impression. Sunderland opting for three at the back with the full-backs pushing forward is a system that he excelled in. While Dennis Cirkin along with his teammates struggled to adapt in the first half, I felt Hume’s forward runs would have made a difference.

Contrast that with a thought in the second half when Cirkin put in a great tackle to prevent a Portsmouth player skinning him. Would Denver Hume have got the tackle in? Who knows, but I can tell you that Callum McFadzean wouldn’t. Maybe this is the selection dilemma that goes through Lee Johnson's mind on the rare occasions both players have been fit.

Since Lee Johnson took charge and mainly because of injury, Hume has only started and completed four league games, all in a row at the end of last season. It is fair to say that Lee Johnson has never seen a fully fit, match sharp Denver Hume, the one that we all knew and saw before the manager’s arrival.

He is a player we hailed as a bright young prospect and with a big future in the game just over a year ago. At 23 years old and only one and a half seasons of senior football in his career, a word I might use to describe him at this point in time is ‘undercooked’.

He hasn’t yet reached his full potential, and with Lee Johnson keeping him on the bench while Dennis Cirkin was out injured, the situation seems much like Chris Maguire in his last six months on Wearside in that the manager just doesn’t fancy him.

At this stage of his career, he needs games every week, and if he is to move to Portsmouth I for one wish him well. Denver Hume is after all ‘one of our own’, and as a player has been a good one who didn’t let anyone down.

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