At this stage in the season, I’m not sure Alex Neil can afford to be blindly loyal to anyone in his squad, never mind a young lad who has tended to struggle whenever he’s played in our first team.
It’s probably harsh to say that when you consider Patterson was actually fairly good away at Wigan, but there’s just something about him that worries me, and I feel like he would have been better off playing for Notts County for the remainder of the season - as it happens, circumstances dictated he had to stay, but he wasn’t retained because we felt he was our number one. Not under Lee Johnson anyways. That man was Thorben Hoffmann.
If I’m honest, Hoffmann doesn’t fill me with confidence either, but I feel more content with him in goal than I do Patterson. Both lads are low on experience and struggle to command their respective areas, but with Hoffmann I feel more confident with the way he patrols his box - Patterson, particularly in recent games, has looked nervy at times and that’s not down to ability, just a lack of experience.
We’ve got 11 games left and really we need to establish the core of our team, and soon. We are desperate for a spine of players to come into form together and establish partnerships, particularly between the centre halves and the goalkeeper, and with the two central midfielders. Ideally, if we could, I’d like to see similar partnerships firm up between full backs and the wide men in front of them, but as a bare minimum, we need to work out who our best keeper and centre-back pairing are and stick with them.
If it was me, and this would be a bold decision, I’d opt for Hoffmann in goal, and let the pairing of Xhemajli and Wright develop further after their impressive showing last weekend.
Like I said, that’s probably really harsh on Patterson given he did okay at Wigan, but we have to be ruthless and we have to be clear in what we’re trying to achieve. Patterson is a cracking prospect but is now his time to shine? I’m not too sure.
Sam Blakey says...
Whilst I’m pretty confident that Hoffmann is a better keeper than a Patterson, it would be very harsh to drop Patterson after Saturday.
I get that it’s just about winning points, and perhaps we have a better chance of doing that with Hoffmann between the sticks compared to Patterson, however, a clean sheet after a run of 5 or so games without one, and away to the second-best side in the league is not to be sniffed at.
The Wigan game could be just what Patterson needs to really kick-start his Sunderland career (albeit maybe as a backup keeper). He made a huge save with Callum Lang being affectingly one on one around 55 minutes. if that goes in it could have been a totally different outcome. In addition to that save, he was also a lot more decisive in his decision making, particularly in regards to commanding his area (one of his main weaknesses in my opinion).
Going forward I concede that Hoffmann should be our first-choice keeper. However, Patterson going over to the delighted 5,000 Sunderland fans as the end praising him, could be exactly what he needs, and dropping him after that for the game against Charlton, for me would be a little harsh.