There’s been a lot of chatter regarding Jack Clarke this season, largely in the form of social media comments and grumblings on local radio shows that are having a go at our young winger.
However, one observation on Saturday took the biscuit, when @SAFC_Analysis decided to point out that Clarke ‘hasn’t registered a goal or an assist in the Championship since 29th October.’
In my eyes, this was an incendiary post.
It appeared minutes after he was part of a team who successfully broke down Reading’s primitive tactics. Also, having glanced at Sky’s highlights, he played at least two decent balls into the box, neither of which were converted by the recipients.
I don’t understand the point of singling Clarke out for criticism. He’s a winger. Wingers are notoriously infuriating but when they pull something off, it’s magnificent.
For the record, although he hasn’t put a tick in the box of assists or goals in the Championship, he’s done so with aplomb in the FA Cup, scoring twice against Fulham and registering one assist against Shrewsbury.
Sunderland is the club for which he’s made the most appearances and he has seven goals and eleven assists to his name in the red and white, which is better than any winger we’ve had recently.
The point is that Clarke is part of a new and exciting team, so get off his back.
He’s constantly working hard down the left and working well with either Aji Alese or Dennis Cirkin.
It makes my blood boil when Twitter accounts get on the backs of individual players who are learning their trade and are improving all the time.
Indeed, Joe Gelhardt was subjected to criticism by a long-standing and self-appointed Sunderland ‘sports journalist’ who claimed that Gelhardt had ‘once again’ failed to make an impact, which was an example of Tony Mowbray’s words being twisted.
If you get on the backs of these players, how are they meant to continue their development and play with freedom, as Mowbray admitted he tells them to do during the buildup to the Fulham game?
Whether these accounts are looking for numbers to justify their existence (and I realise the irony that I’m giving them more here) they need to lay off these young and impressionable players and get behind the team, instead of publishing divisive nonsense.