They often say in football, don’t fall in love with loan players- it will only leave you hurting. Before this season, we’d had this pain in experiences which were few and far between. Yan M’villa is one of the most recent ones and one which fans of my generation felt the brunt of.
These players used to come around once every few years at most. This season, however, we’ve had a whole bunch of loveable loanees. Often, our loan players have not looked fully invested in the side. There’s no real obligation for them to, but it would have been nice if some looked a bit more like they actually wanted to be here.
At full time on Sunday, videos showed Michut, Gelhardt and Amad absolutely loving life. All three of them played a large part in what was a huge win, and each had the work rate which we’ve not had from many permanent players in years gone by.
Clips on the club’s Instagram page showed Diallo and Gelhardt sprinting over to the vocal away end to get in the middle of the celebrations. These players clearly want to be here, even if these two in particular will almost definitely not be with us next season.
Commitment and courage are two traits which Tony Mowbray has ingrained into his young side. For all the attacking prowess, we’ve backed up performances with some tough tackling and brave defending.
The mad 20 seconds at The Hawthorns when the home side were throwing the kitchen sink at us to retake the lead. Multiple blocks in the penalty area kept West Brom at bay. In the thick of it was Amad, a player who is usually making magical things happen at the other end of the pitch.
Seeing an attacking player, who may only have two more matches to play for Sunderland (although hopefully five, right?) get stuck in and throwing his body on the line was incredible to see. It is also a reminder of just how invested these players are into the plan we are working through on Wearside.
We all know the quality of Michut, and although he may still need some bulking up, there’s no question that he has the makings of a quality midfielder. Out of the three loanees mentioned, he looks set to be the only one who will return to the SoL for next season. Nevertheless, he has grown as a player in the second half of the season and he came off the bench to help settle things down on Sunday- getting him signed up for the relatively cheap asking price of his parent club PSG have asked for feels like a no-brainer.
Last but certainly not least, I come to Joe Gelhardt. The Leeds loanee had his work cut out before he’d even played a match with the injury to Ross Stewart. Brought in play off the big man, Gelhardt has been forced to lead the line in a role not too familiar to him. He found it tough going at first, but the last few weeks we’ve seen him really make a step up. One thing which has never been in doubt is his effort, and it’s good to see this work rate paying off for both him and the club.
Falling in love with a loan player is something which all football fans are warned against, but it’s sometimes inevitable. Seeing players play in red and white who look like they would give 110% every second they are on the pitch is what we want as fans- but having loanees fulfilling this requirement is dangerous- it is the number one cause of falling for them.