If it wasn’t already obvious he’d be our first choice this season, Anthony Patterson being given the number one jersey has reaffirmed Alex Neil’s faith in the young goalkeeper.
Since coming into the team in January for the Wycombe game, Patterson has developed his game tenfold – he now looks comfortable dealing with crosses, is decent on the ball, and a very good shot-stopper.
His performance at Wembley suggests he is good under pressure, with his standout moment being THAT save from Sam Vokes (after Bailey Wright decided to take a mid-game nap).
With that being said, he is still very inexperienced in the senior game, and was out on loan in the National League last season for a large portion of the season, with Lee Burge and Ron-Thorben Hoffmann making ‘Patto’ third choice under Lee Johnson. It could also be argued that had Hoffman and Burge not had complications with COVID-19, the academy graduate may not have even got a chance at the Stadium of Light.
Patterson is still young and has a lot to learn, and those lessons need to be learned quickly if Sunderland are going to be successful this season.
Our number two goalkeeper this season is Alex Bass, who spent the second half of last season on loan at League Two Bradford City, and most of the patter I’ve seen online between Sunderland fans and Portsmouth or Bradford fans has been very similar, with most people saying Bass is an unreal shot-stopper but needs to be more commanding of his area and improve his on-the-ball attributes.
Our recruitment has been very good in the last three transfer windows which does give you hope that Bass will be a good signing, and the club must have faith in him given that he has signed a three-year deal. Bass has got the experience of playing for two big teams which will stand him in good stead however, no disrespect to those teams but, Sunderland is on another level.
Bass is also young for a goalkeeper – which leaves us with two young goalkeepers who are yet to reach the top of their game, who have never played as high as the Championship, battling it out to wear the shirt in what is a massive season for Sunderland.
With all that being said, they surely can’t be as bad as the so-called goalkeepers we had the last time we were at this level.
Personally, I believe we should sign an experienced goalkeeper who will push the two others on, who is still good enough to play in the Championship but won’t mind warming the bench.
Oh, and a goalie coach might help as well!