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Roker Roundtable: How will you remember Aiden McGeady’s time at Sunderland?

The veteran Irishman has departed the club following the expiration of his contract. How do our panel assess his contributions in red and white?

Photo by Tim Goode/PA Images via Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says…

I think I’ll remember McGeady’s time at Sunderland positively, but I also hope he is the last of a long line of footballers who fit a particular mould - a type of player that I don’t really want to see in our squad. I’ll come back to that in a bit.

In my view, McGeady’s contribution to the club has been good, and great at times, and I was pleased to see him sign back in 2017. The skills and experience he brought to the team were more than welcome, and it felt like a bit of a coup that we had secured his services.

His trickery, skills and pinpoint balls into the box were virtually unstoppable at times, as were many of his free kicks, including that one at Wembley not too long ago.

The partnership he established with Charlie Wyke was also impressive. He seemed to be able to pick out Charlie with minimal trouble, and he was a major factor in Wyke almost winning the League One golden boot a couple of seasons ago.

It’s fair to say at times that limited us, however, because if those two didn’t click, goals were hard to come by, but that’s more a criticism of the wider team rather than Geads or Chaz.

On the downside, there were times when Aiden clearly rubbed people up the wrong way. The most notable example of this was Phil Parkinson, who estranged the winger from his teammates for a large period.

In my view, that fallout contributed significantly to how we performed that season.

If he simply clashed with Parkinson through no fault of his own, then he was unlucky. On the other hand, if his exclusion was due to his attitude or application on or off the pitch, then that’s pretty poor from a senior professional. Ultimately, the truth behind that situation will only really be known by Phil and Aiden, I suppose.

The point I opened with is a simple one. When he arrived, Geads was already approaching the end of his career, and though he played well for a while and doubtless took pay cuts later to try to help us get back up, I’m tired of our club picking up big names later in their careers, often to the detriment of younger talent who then don’t get a crack.

I’m very grateful for the commitment Geads showed, but I want our future to be about embracing youth and emerging talent- from our academy if possible- rather than giving senior pros a few more years of a decent payday.

As said upfront, the memories of Aiden are mainly positive, but this is the time for a shift in how SAFC operate, and if we don’t sign another thirty year-old with a big past behind him for a while, I’ll be happy with that too.

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

Kelvin Beattie says…

I would have given Aiden McGeady another year-long contract.

On the face of it, he’s a highly talented, seasoned professional with a wealth of experience under his belt.

McGeady is also returning from a long term injury, and while Alex Neil didn’t have to name him among his seven substitutes at Wembley, he chose to. Why? Chiefly because he believed that if things didn’t go to plan, Neil could call on our veteran winger to make a significant impact off the bench.

Would I have seen McGeady as a starting XI player next season? Not necessarily, no, but he’s a great option, both as a squad man and as an impact substitute.

They say you’re a long time retired, and it’s true that there’s only one McGeady. Age and recent injury record aside, I have no doubt that Geads could have played a significant role in some capacity, for one year only, as we go about consolidating in the Championship. After all, it’s only a year since he was lauded as the main assist machine for Charlie Wyke’s excellent goalscoring return.

That said, I wanted Grant Leadbitter to stay on for another year, and we managed to win promotion without him, so I’m always happy to be proved wrong.

I fully appreciate what McGeady has done for the club. There were dark times in recent seasons when he was the man who would pull something special out of the top draw when required.

Admittedly, there were also more difficult times, such as when he fell out of favour under Phil Parkinson, but I always felt the good far outweighed the bad.

Now that it is the end for Geads at Sunderland, I thank him for his contribution, wish him well, and hope that with some other key players leaving- notably Jack Clarke, who is returning to his parent club, we don’t find ourselves short when McGeady could have been ready to step in, if and when we needed him.

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Phil West says…

In my opinion, McGeady’s time in red and white has been extremely mixed, and although it is right that his service to the club should be applauded, I don’t think he should be classed as a Sunderland ‘legend’- a label that we tend to affix to players far too easily nowadays.

For much of our time in League One, McGeady was our best attacking outlet, probably our only talismanic player, and his moments of individual skill were often the difference in tight games. Indeed, when Lee Johnson brought him back into the fold during the 2020/2021 season, he struck up a deadly partnership with Charlie Wyke, a combination that led us into the playoffs before we fell short against Lincoln.

The argument that ‘McGeady was the only one who had standards’ was always an interesting one, and I never believed it, personally.

As an ex-Celtic player and someone with Champions League experience, it was natural that his ceiling was higher than that of his teammates. Did he find it frustrating that they couldn’t quite reach his level? Did Phil Parkinson realise this, hence the ‘freezing out’ of McGeady? The answer is that we will probably never know exactly what went on, but it certainly didn’t help matters when the story broke.

2021/2022 saw us finally break free of our reliance on McGeady, as a multitude of attacking players stepped up to the plate and ultimately helped us to playoff success. Can anyone really say that we missed McGeady at any point during the season? I don’t think we did. Against Wycombe, he finally got the Wembley triumph he would doubtless have craved, and that felt like the perfect note on which to conclude his Sunderland career.

Sunderland v Cheltenham Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images


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