This morning, the EFL announced via EFL.com that midfield maestro Patrick Roberts had been nominated for September’s Championship Player of the Month award.
In the announcement, the EFL said of Roberts:
His brilliance hasn’t always been paired with consistency, but Roberts made quite an impact in September. He cut inside to sweep home twice in Sunderland’s win at Reading and then provided a pinpoint cross for a late equaliser at Watford.
The 25-year-old winger is up against some strong opposition, with Sheff United’s Wes Foderingham (who barely conceded a goal all month), Norwich’s Teemu Pukki (three goals and two assists), and Luton’s Carlton Morris (four goals in four games) also listed.
The winner will be announced tomorrow, and whilst we’re all hoping Patrick wins and gets some deserved recognition for his fantastic form, the fact he’s even been nominated is praise enough for a player who has really stepped it up under our new gaffer, Tony Mowbray.
His best performance of the month came away at Reading, where he terrorised Paul Ince’s high-fliers in the absence of a recognised striker, scoring two absolute worldies that were overshadowed by the best team goal I’ve ever seen from a Sunderland side, one he played a big part in before the move was eventually finished off by Jack Clarke.
He also stuck the ball into the mixer which eventually fell to Jewison Bennette at Watford, culminating in a late equaliser and what can only be described as ‘absolute scenes’ in front of the watching Sunderland faithful.
Tony Mowbray has repeatedly made a point of praising Roberts’ talent when speaking publicly recently, and you can only imagine that the intense focus that the Head Coach has placed upon the ex-Manchester City man since arriving has helped him to regain the confidence in his ability which has evaded him for most of his career.
A friend recently told me that in a conversation with Mowbray, just days after he took the job, that the gaffer spoke about just how well he thought of Roberts, and how he was going to make him central to his plans as the season progressed - something we’ve seen play out on the pitch ever since. Unlike his predecessor, Mowbray has used Roberts in every game and has placed a lot of trust and confidence in him as he bids to unlock the talent of a player who everyone knows could be pivotal to any success we have in the future.
And, really, that’s all Roberts has ever wanted in his career - for a manager to love him.
With hindsight, the move from Fulham to Manchester City as a kid was a bad one, and for as long as he was on their books he was wasting away the formative years of his career. Whilst loan experience is essential to the development of almost every talented young player coming through at a top side, they all reach a point where they can only gain so much from being loaned about - and after experiencing success with Celtic, every loan after that saw him struggle to maintain any sort of consistency.
After a sticky start to the season under Alex Neil, where he just wasn’t getting the chances to play in the side due to the system we played more than anything, Roberts has finally got his feet under the table at Sunderland - and backed by a manager who has full belief in his ability, the sky really is the limit for Patrick.
Winning the award tomorrow would be a tremendous confidence boost, but even if he doesn’t get it I still think he should be very proud of what he’s achieved so far this season, and that from here he has to continue to show everyone just how talented he is.