The midweek defeat at Rotherham won’t live long in the memory with many Sunderland fans, but it will be a key number for one of our most crucial players. Coming off the bench, Patrick Roberts made his 50th appearance for the club.
The signing of Roberts back in January 2022 was something of a coup for the club. A clearly gifted player, Roberts had never really found a home anywhere. Despite this unsettled nature, snapping him up as a League One club seemed like a superb piece of business.
After a slow start to life on Wearside, things picked up for Roberts in the promotion push. He will, of course, be always fondly remembered for his contribution in the play off semi final at Hillsborough. Him having the sharpest eye and quickest feet in South Yorkshire that night booked us a place at Wembley and then the Championship.
During what has been one of our most enjoyable seasons in recent years, Roberts has been arguably our most enjoyable player to watch. His top link up play with Amad down our right hand side has carved open many a defence.
His eight goal contributions have almost all come in winning outcomes, and his two goals in the 3-0 win at Reading were works of art. If they hadn’t been scored in the same match as Jack Clarke’s stunning effort, I feel we’d be talking a lot more about them.
Roberts has that ability to make something happen out of nothing. The prime example of this being the winner in the home match against Reading. It was a match which was fading towards a dull 0-0 draw thanks to the visitors unwillingness to play football.
Yet Roberts was having none of it, and his persistence and quick feet carved out the opening to grab all three points. Many of our successes this season have been through having an array of players on hand to do this- Roberts is at the top of this list for me.
It’s no secret that we play our best attacking football with Patrick Roberts on the pitch. His link up play with Amad and having support from an impressive Trai Hume has given us a real threat down the right hand side.
Roberts has proven to be one of the best free transfers of the last five years, perhaps even longer. Having a player who is a genuine game changer has made the difference in many matches this season, going forward his talent will no doubt play a huge part this season and into next.