Risky yet beautiful football has become a bit of a given with Championship-era Sunderland, and despite being blighted by injuries for much of our fourteen months back in the second tier, our style of play has developed into one of the best many of us have ever seen.
This has shone through in our first team this season, and watching the recent U21s match against Derby County is evidence that promising players getting minutes at age-group level is a win-win scenario for all.
These days, Sunderland’s style of football is clear.
On the pitch, we have a plan and when it clicks, it really clicks. The fact that such a progressive style has been implemented is evidence that the blueprint is working on all levels.
Adopting a policy of giving fringe first team players minutes in the age-group teams is working well.
Other than most of our senior lads being young enough to qualify outright, it’s helping to prepare them for when they may be needed by Tony Mowbray. During the victory over Derby, for example, Nectar Triantis and Jenson Seelt got some valuable minutes under their belt, which will be hugely beneficial.
A fun-loving approach to football is becoming a bit of a trademark and our ability to pass teams off the park whilst barely getting out of second gear on occasions (the 3-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday being the most recent example), is a joy to watch.
This style of football was on show during the victory over Derby, and it’s good to see that its being adopted right throughout the club.
On Friday night, as the first team dismantled the Owls, our U21s came from behind to beat Aston Villa 3-2.
Harry Gardiner has scored four goals in five games and on his current trajectory, it’s likely that he’ll be one of the next academy products to make the breakthrough into the first team.
It’s only a matter of time before more of these players emerge, and we’re now a club with youth development at its core. It makes sense that the style of football is now consistent, but it’s a bonus that it happened so quickly.
Our blend of senior players and young prospects is working a treat and the winning feeling is flowing through both sides.
The first team is on a run of five wins in seven, and the U21s are three games unbeaten after back-to-back wins.
The infrastructure of the club is operating like a well-oiled machine, and the blueprint for success isn’t just being used for new arrivals- it’s also being followed by young players and the architects of this, on all levels, are the coaching staff.