First and foremost, I have to say that I can hardly believe that we attracted a player of his quality to the third tier of English football.
I guess under ordinary circumstances you wouldn’t bring a player like that to your club, but his situation with Troyes wasn’t good and he’d also had a number of bad moves.
The talent has always been there with him and it was always more of a case of ‘can he be given the chance to thrive in a system that allows him to do his thing?, and he’s certainly found that at Sunderland under Tony Mowbray.
He never really got a fair crack from Alex Neil and it’s only really now, a year since he arrived, that he’s starting to show his true qualities.
However, I’m not getting too carried away and I think whilst he’s a brilliant footballer, his end product must be better.
His goal against Reading was a step in the right direction but he has to carry that on as the season progresses, particularly whilst we’re without Ross Stewart.
For as good as he is, he needs more goals and assists to be truly thought of as the Premier League-standard player that his abilities suggest he can be.
Andrew Smithson says…
I’d have to put Roberts at the top end of recent signings, and I honestly don’t think he’d look out of place in the Premier League at the moment.
It was a shrewd move to bring him in and if I remember rightly, the deal was structured in a such a way so there was minimal risk to all parties. He was given a chance to show what he could do, and there was the prospect of a longer-term contract if it worked out.
It’s a smart way of doing things and it means we’ve ended up with a player of real quality for very little initial outlay.
He was excellent at Wembley during the playoff final and his performance was a huge part of our win that day. He’s continued to produce since then, and his ball control in particular is lovely to watch.
Roberts also seems to be enjoying his link-up with Amad, and I get the impression he’s enjoying his football right now.
It would appear that being able to settle down somewhere, get a run of games and be made to feel appreciated by the staff has helped him really get into a groove and whilst Reading must be sick of the sight of him, I daresay most Sunderland fans are very happy with his efforts.
Malc Dugdale says…
Roberts is a big-game player and I’d certainly place him among a select group of players who’ve been instrumental in our rise. Yes, he has the odd off day but boy, does he have good days too.
People may forget that when we played Reading away, it was Roberts who scored two quick goals to give us a lead before we scored a ‘goal of the season’ contender.
He changed the game and both of his goals were down to individual determination and skill.
Ever since he busted his backside to score that goal in the playoffs against Sheffield Wednesday, he’s shown more often than not that he doesn’t accept that a game is over until the final whistle.
The thing I like most about Roberts is his ever improving linkup with the players around him.
The interplay with Amad is often incredible to watch, as is his understanding with Alex Pritchard. His ability to use his speed of feet alongside his footballing brain can literally turn a game upside down in a moment, and he can also pass the ball brilliantly.
Overall, I’m over the moon that he’s finally found a club loves him and that he seems to love back.
He’s got class in abundance and will likely do even better should we make it into the top division with him in our ranks.
I’m chuffed that we signed him when we did and he’s definitely one of several amazing attacking options we are hoping can help us make the playoffs, even without Ross Stewart to help.
Hopefully his most recent goal can be one of many more!
Mark Wood says…
If you think back to when he first signed for us, his contributions were a little sparse apart from towards the end of the season- such as his playoff goal against Sheffield Wednesday.
Nonetheless, his contract was extended when he could’ve left after just six months.
Somebody within the Sunderland hierarchy must’ve seen something in him but you wonder if it was Alex Neil, because he barely used him at the start of the current season.
You have to give Tony Mowbray credit for taking a look at Roberts and immediately realising he had a player on his hands.
Mowbray also recognised that he needs the proverbial arm around his shoulder, and a head coach who’ll frequently rave about his abilities to the press. As a consequence, Roberts’ influence has grown as the season has gone on.
His performance in the FA Cup on Wednesday summed up Sunderland’s night.
He looked nervous and he played some misplaced passes at first, but he didn’t throw in the towel and took the game to Fulham in the second half. Like his teammates, he left nothing in the dressing room, and eventually got his reward with the winner against Reading on Saturday.
In terms of recent signings that are absolute value for money and a major influence, I’d place him up there with Ross Stewart and Aji Alese.