Andrew Smithson says…
When we first signed Pritchard, there were many opposition fans telling us he was a waster, but we’ve seen no evidence of this at all and the fact that he’s now reached one hundred appearances is further evidence of how we’re recruiting a lot more smartly these days.
In the past, we were sometimes guilty of scraping the bottom of the barrel but he was one of the first of the new crop where we looked at the full picture and realised he was a player who just needed the right environment.
There’s been a few players with similar backgrounds who’ve come along since and we’re reaping the benefits. He seems grateful to have been given the chance and is putting the work in.
Seeing such work rate from a senior figure is a good thing in terms of setting an example.
He brings a bit of know-how and the ability to move between the lines, and whereas in the past, his best work seemed to be with Ross Stewart, I’d say that his contributions this season have been vital.
As for favourite moments, there are a few.
He obviously reacts well when getting stick off opposition fans, and that was seen against Millwall and Huddersfield Town, but his best goal for me was against Preston North End at the end of last season.
In a pressure situation, he had the calmness and confidence to give the goalkeeper the eyes and find the opposite corner, and it put us in a great position.
At times, Pritchard is spiky on the pitch and I like that will to win.
Tony Mowbray seems to think that he’s a good character to have around the place and I know that whenever he meets young fans, he’s spot on with them.
Long may it continue, and congratulations on the milestone, Alex!
Malc Dugdale says…
I’m chuffed that Pritch has reached this milestone, as after a challenging period of his career, his move to Sunderland in League One was a bit of a ‘make or break’ situation.
However, he’s grabbed the chance and really done well, and I’m very happy the rumours of his exit in the summer didn’t come true.
Even with the midfield promise we have right now, he’s often seen as the right option for what the wider team needs and for the opponents we have to face. He brings huge experience and if someone has a knock out wide or through the middle, he’s always happy and ready to do a job.
Pritchard often leads the press for the ball from the front, urging the lads to up the intensity whenever it dips.
He’s also a decent option at set pieces and is a rarity at Sunderland: an experienced player with a level head in a very young team. We often need someone to put a foot on the ball and calm things down, and he does that very well.
The thing I’ve enjoyed most about Pritchard of late would be his goal celebrations.
Jack Clarke’s goal against Blackburn, where Pritchard fed him down the left and then slowly raised his arms as Clarke beat man after man and finished the move off was wonderful to watch, and symbolic of how he thrives with those around him succeeding.
He’s equally happy with assisting goals as he is when scoring himself; a proper team player.
I’d be more than happy for Pritchard to rack up many more appearances for us.
He’s steadily growing his red and white core and is someone the fans really have warmed to. I’m really pleased for him, and with his qualities and experience, we’re blessed to have him at the club.
Phil West says…
Pritchard has been an absolute gem of a signing, one of the most influential additions to our dressing room in recent years and now that we’re making a major impression in the Championship, he’s flourishing on a bigger stage and against opponents of a higher calibre, as nobody ever doubted he would.
He was one of the first ‘data-driven’ signings to arrive on Wearside when the current model was implemented, and the algorithms worked out beautifully, because he’s added class, skill, composure and real competitiveness since he joined the club back in 2021.
His Sunderland career took a little bit of time to get going, but he’s been a key player for us ever since running Oxford ragged at the Stadium of Light in late 2021, and I’m immensely relieved that he didn’t leave the club during the summer.
In such a young side, someone of his class is worth his weight in gold, and he’s been crucial in driving the standards, showing the new arrivals exactly what it means to be a Sunderland player, and what’s expected when you don the red and white stripes.
Pritchard’s importance was underlined during our trip to The Den to face Millwall last season. He started the game on the bench and after a stern test in a hostile environment, we found ourselves 1-0 down against one of the most physically abrasive teams in the division.
However, when he entered the fray, he helped us to get a foot on the ball, gradually gain a foothold in the game, and eventually draw level through Dennis Cirkin’s brave header. It was a vital point in our quest for a top six finish, and Pritchard played a huge role in the result.
We’re not short of attacking midfielders nowadays, and his role may be slightly different from when he first joined the club. Still, he remains a key player for us, a real fans’ favourite, and I’d love to see him rewarded with a new contract and for him to extend his stay on Wearside even further.