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Durham v Sunderland - Barclays FA Women’s Championship

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Lasses Analysis: Mary McAteer is Sunderland’s potent attacking weapon

A future star in the making, McAteer has already shown glimpses of just how special of a player she is, and why she’s a fan favourite. We take a closer look at exactly what makes her so good!

Photo by Stu Forster - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

She’s just a little bit good, isn’t she?

Mary McAteer is a young woman but for someone with time on her side, she seems to be in a hurry. From a young age, she’s always been a standout talent and someone with a high ceiling.

You’ll struggle to miss McAteer during a game, because she’s a player who doesn’t stop moving.

A fairly versatile attacker in terms of her positioning, she can play with a strike partner, coming in off the left, or on the right. Whilst she’s better playing off another forward, she could potentially lead the line as well.

Despite this versatility, there’s no such variety when it comes to the roles she performs for her team. McAteer always looks to do one thing: attack the goal with energy and directness.

A lot of her value is derived from a confluence of basic characteristics.

She has the ability to get into scoring situations with ease and is quick, nimble, and straightforward. A simple yet effective combination that permeates every facet of her performance.

The clearest illustration of this is arguably how she positions herself.

On the right flank, which is her more natural side, she frequently attacks the penalty area’s corner as opposed to hugging the touchline. She seems to be pulled towards the goal and rather than carefully preparing, she’s drawn to locations on instinct.

Birmingham City v Sunderland - Barclays Women’s Championship Photo by Malcolm Couzens - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

It’s easy to see how she’s at her best when paired with a forward who facilitates this kind of play.

The counter movements of a centre forward dropping deep and McAteer attacking the space in behind is always a tantalising prospect and one which we’ve seen on numerous occasions this season, through some phenomenal link up with Liz Ejupi.

They seem have an almost telepathic level of communication, knowing where they’ll be, where to play the ball and what they plan to do next.

I only wish I had some footage from Sunderland’s recent game against Durham to illustrate this, as on three occasions they played some incredible one-touch passing, flicks, chips and no-look-through balls to each other.

It should come as no surprise that McAteer likes to shoot when the chance presents itself.

She often makes sensible decisions when she’s unable to see the target, and she’s naturally inclined to attack spaces and open the taps, but when faced with an organised defence, she’s more likely to play a safe pass rather than challenge her partner.

McAteer is a fairly direct passer who’ll look for quick combinations and to play teammates in if possible, but only if the circumstance suits her. Her passing is deadly in transition or when a defence has been unsettled.

Her ability to take on players and beat them one-on-one remains an integral part of her attacking play.

This is particularly useful for an attacking player, because running at disorganised defences combined with intelligent movement from teammates is often a recipe for success on the counter.

Even in games when her team has dominated the ball, McAteer can provide a spark by taking one or two opposition players out of the game with her excellent technique.

Combined with poise on the ball, McAteer’s pace is reminiscent of a teenage Leroy Sane.

As a senior professional, she’s still developing from the technically formidable player she was at junior level to a versatile forward.

As a genuine winger, McAteer looks much more comfortable in taking players on and beating them with her pace or a nifty bit of skill.

Her right foot is capable of weaving a football through swarms of defenders and unravelling the opposition’s defensive shape. She can bring crowds to their feet and put defenders on their backsides as she effortlessly glides across the field.

Despite playing for a team who are currently utilising dominant levels of possession, McAteer consistently turns in hard working performances on either side of the ball.

She’s not the type of winger to give up on a play when she loses possession, often immediately switching to a defensive mindset to slow the opponent who dispossessed her and retrieve the ball.

Already a firm fan favourite and crowd pleaser, McAteer’s progress and development at Sunderland has been astronomical since she arrived in the summer.

She looks to be thoroughly enjoying her football and her partnership with Ejupi and Jessica Brown at right back seem to be paying dividends.

Under the tutorage of Mel Reay, Steph Libbey and the rest of the coaching team, she can only continue to grow and learn, with the support of the wider squad.

Having received a call up to the Welsh senior team and made her debut against Germany, the sky is the limit for McAteer and we can’t wait to witness it!

Durham v Sunderland - Barclays FA Women’s Championship Photo by Stu Forster - The FA/The FA via Getty Images


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