What’s with the Luke O’Nien haters?
There’s a section of Sunderland fans, largely on social media, who seem to really dislike him. Is he the greatest player to have pulled on the Red & White in the last few years?
I don’t think so, but to pull him apart is to fail to understand what he does for the team.
Let's put aside his exemplary professionalism and community work, and look at what he does on the pitch.
I’ve heard many supporters say how much they just want a good honest grafter, to leave it all out on the pitch and they will back them forever. But not, it seems, with O’Nien. And he leaves everything out there. At the start of this season he was carrying a serious shoulder injury but played on week after week, visibly through the pain barrier, giving everything for the team. In midfield, and across the defence.
When he was forced to have surgery, he came back after three months when the prediction was three to nine months out. A couple of weeks before his return, following another defeat, I speculated that our only hope was to have him back in the side.
He returned on 8th March, and we have not lost a game since.
Yes, he has a few wayward passes, but then so do all players at this level. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be in League One. It’s not all about tricks and flicks and being a fancy dan though. In his last game before the surgery, he scored the winner in the last minute, and still the haters were giving it “so what does he do?”. FFS.
On Friday, he was instructed to do a job on Barry Bannan, and he had him in his pocket all night. Sheffield Wednesday play through Bannan – give him a sniff and the next thing you know you’re badly on the defensive. O’Nien took him out of the game and neutralised their main threat, running himself into the ground and getting booked in the process. Again.
Alongside Evans, who was excellent, he broke up play again and again, and allowed our more creative players freedom to get down the wing, or run through the middle, and terrorise the Wednesday defence in the knowledge that the centre of midfield was well solid behind them.
To the haters, I say watch the match, not the ball – something that’s hard to do while you’re sat in the pub or on your settee. Think about what each player is bringing to the team. Look at the movement off the ball as well as where it’s being played, and you just might see a different player.
Haway! I want me cheesy chip down Wembly way!