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Analysis: What can Sunderland fans expect from The Lasses’ new number ten, Danielle Brown?

Sunderland have brought Danielle Brown back to Wearside for an undisclosed fee from neighbours Durham - what can fans, old and new, expect from the new #10?

Sunderland AFC

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On Friday afternoon, Sunderland Women announced the return of Danielle Brown, with the 23-year-old forward signing a two-year deal, joining after an undisclosed fee was agreed with our neighbours Durham.

It is now known that Brown was the trialist who participated in some of the Lasses’ pre-season games over the summer - something that was kept under wraps in order to help smooth over the move whilst everything was being put in place.

The addition of Brown - the third player to move from Durham to Sunderland this summer - sees Mel Reay strengthen the team further, becoming the fourth signing in the transfer window - adding yet another player with essential Championship experience, and someone who also spent time with the England Youth teams.

Brown will don the number 10 shirt for the upcoming 2022–2023 season.

Liverpool Ladies v Sunderland Ladies: WSL 1 Photo by Dave Thompson - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

So... what’s she like?

Brown is a lightning-quick attacker and midfielder who excels either as the number 10 or on the right wing. With Durham, she has experience playing in both 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 formations on the right flank, but she performed best when positioned behind the striker and given creative freedom.

Even if she occasionally only receives a few minutes, the 23-year-old has adapted easily to her responsibilities as the key hub of her squad since her early and formative days at Sunderland. She enjoys having the ball at all times and possesses the cunning will to drive at defenders or make daring passes to expose an opponent’s defensive set-up.

Her ability to adjust the game’s tempo while carrying the ball is undoubtedly her most distinctive and alluring quality. Brown frequently covers ground more quickly during attacking transitions than your eyes can keep up with.

It would be incorrect to believe Brown is a shooter first and foremost, given her skill at counterattacking and superb ball-handling ability. That wouldn’t be the case because her main objective is to advance and involve others. However, she has been called upon to play as the sole striker for Durham at times last season.

She provides equally strong defensive covering and attacking threat in wider situations, and her engine never seems to run out of fuel.

For a player her age, Brown has mature awareness of when and where to press, and she puts up the same amount of effort whether playing the ten position or as a winger.

Her work ethic and personality are exemplified by her mindset when it comes to winning second balls and pursuing missed opportunities. The manner she intimidates centre backs and central midfielders out of possession belies her relatively modest frame.

Committed, determined and passionate, Brown encompasses all you want in a player, and is one that Mel Reay and Steph Libbey will rely upon to add that cutting edge.

Brown average heatmap

Brown’s diligent movement complements her ability to make crosses from the right flank or cut backs into the box beautifully from an offensive standpoint.

Although she is capable of floating balls into the box with either foot, she is most effective at creating opportunities with her preferred right foot when in wide areas.

Usually taking the ball to the by-line, she would then cut back to her go-to foot and ping the ball into a potentially dangerous area.

Defenders find it challenging to stop her from creating opportunities due to her low centre of gravity and natural pace, meaning they usual have to concede a foul to stop her, providing a great attacking opportunity for the team from a set piece.

She is praised for more than just the dribbling skills in her repertoire; she is also consistently able to locate open spaces after collecting the ball and break into them, frequently outrunning a challenge in her own half. Brown constantly tries to stay on her feet and continue running even if it could be easy for her to collapse under pressure or after being tackled at some points (as highlighted in the below video).

As she prepares to take control, Brown surveys her surroundings twice or three times, giving her the ability to foresee obstacles and overcome them. Those quick looks are followed by precise turns that reveal wide pockets for rushing into.

Brown is contagious in her relentless press and counter press on defence. She adopts excellent postures in the latter, maintaining a side-on stance, being light on her feet, lowering her centre of gravity and angling to block the area behind her. Additionally, she reads and continuously scans the play. She frequently presses players in an effort to force them back or make a mistake, intercepts the ball, and then uses her amazing speed to pounce on the lost ball in these circumstances.

Brown is remarkably strong and able to support herself despite not being particularly tall or stocky in build. You can always see her shielding the ball, dodging people as she moves forward to avoid any tackles, but she also uses strength on defence to hold onto the ball, see it safely across the goal line, and give her teammates time to position themselves to receive it properly.

Overall, it is a very astute and shrewd signing by Sunderland Women, one which not only adds depth, but looks to reinforce the attack we have going forward. Brown will be integral to the philosophy and style of play Reay likes to incorporate.

Average stats over 21/22 season

  • Appearances - 16
  • Minutes - 484
  • Total Actions - 60.81
  • Shots - 0.93
  • Passes - 21.38
  • Pass Accuracy - 73.9%
  • Long Passes - 0.74
  • Crosses - 1.49
  • Dribbles - 3.35
  • Duels - 27.52
  • Aerial Duels - 2.79
  • Interceptions - 3.0
  • Recoveries - 5.58

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