Clarke’s an enigmatic player in that he doesn’t really have to play particularly well across ninety minutes to have an impact.
Obviously you’d love him to be a consistent performer and to be able to have even more of an impact at the top end of the pitch, but then you have to remind yourself that he’s still a kid playing in the Championship.
That level of consistency only comes from playing games and if he could do what he did at QPR every week, he’d be playing in the Premier League.
I know the question was about recent form specifically, and to be honest I think he’s been canny but not particularly startling.
As I said before, I don’t particularly care how he plays if he’s getting goals and assists, because the consistency will come down the line.
He’s an absolutely superb finisher and whilst he’s often guilty of overplaying it, he’s devastating when he does what he’s good at, which is running at his man and getting his shots off, just like he did at Loftus Road.
Do more of that and he’ll be playing in the top flight soon enough!
Anthony Gair says…
Goals aside, Clarke’s one of the most exciting players I’ve seen at Sunderland.
His movement on and off the ball, his final third decision making, his mazy running and his overall attitude towards his teammates and the game excites me no end.
He showed glimpses of quality under Alex Neil but nothing like we’re seeing now as part of a side high on confidence.
Tony Mowbray doesn’t need my approval, but I’m overjoyed to see the current team spirit.
From Danny Batth taking out the lad who smashed Anthony Patterson against Fulham to Luke O’Nien’s every move, everyone seems happy to be playing for Sunderland AFC, which is a far cry from just two years ago.
Injuries permitting, Clarke will play every game for the remainder of the season, because he’s that important to the team, and he’ll probably score another ten and set up fifteen goals before the season ends.
Have I said I absolutely love this team yet? We’re mint!
Paddy Hayes says…
It’s no secret that Clarke has received a greater amount of stick than his recent performances have warranted.
Admittedly, he can be a frustrating player to watch at times, although that’s in part down to him falling victim to the high standards he’s regularly proved himself capable of.
However, it’s testament to his mental fortitude that he blocked out the murmurings of discontent to deliver a brilliantly-taken goal against Fulham, and then bagged a brace in a man-of-the-match display just a week later.
He’s more than rewarded Tony Mowbray’s faith and persistence in sticking with him.
It’s obvious that Clarke has bags of raw ability and that invaluable capacity to win a game, and this is what Mowbray sees frequently during training, so it’s great to see him replicate it on the pitch.
It’s slightly absurd that Clarke is viewed as a more senior figure in the dressing room given that he’s still only twenty two.
At such a young age, there’s still plenty of room for further development and the only way he’s going to do that is by taking the rough with the smooth, and performing as he did on Tuesday night.