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Sunderland v Luton Town: Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final First Leg

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Roker Roundtable: Sunderland’s 2022/2023 player of the season and goal of the season!

In the first of our series of post-season reviews, we asked our writers to choose their Sunderland player of the season, as well as their favourite goal from 2022/2023!

Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Player of the season

Andrew Smithson says…Anthony Patterson

When you look back over the season and see how many candidates there are, you realise just how good 2022/2023 was.

I can understand why Danny Batth got the official awards and I think that if he’d been fit for the run-in, the second leg against Luton may have panned out differently.

However, my own alternative would be Patterson, who I think is a wonderful example of why it’s important to get the academy structure right and to give young players a real chance.

His consistency and availability have actually been two of the reasons why our defensive shortages haven’t been as damaging as they could have been.

He’s a steady presence and is able to put any minor slips to the back of his mind quickly, which I think helps those in front of him to settle. He’s also a brilliant stopper and I love his ‘flops’ when we need to take a moment out and reset.

Given all of this, it’s sometimes easy to forget that he’s still young, but based on what we’ve seen so far, I feel that he’s one of the best prospects in the country and that over time, he’ll continue to impress.

Sunderland v Luton Town: Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final First Leg Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Dan Harrison says…Lynden Gooch

I’m going to pick someone that I feel doesn’t get much appreciation in a Sunderland shirt.

Despite not setting the world alight, Gooch quietly assumed the armband and was instrumental when filling in wherever he was asked to perform. Nothing was more telling than the American having to operate as a left-sided centre back in four of our biggest games last season.

Some might be quick to remember that he’s been around since the Premier League days.

He’s seen it all, experienced all the lows and through his professionalism and willingness to support the team in all areas on and off the field, has demonstrated why nothing can replicate the passion and desire that comes from one of our own.

Despite not grabbing the eye of many, Gooch has been hugely important as a leader and role model for the young players to look up in 202/2023, and particularly during the final stretch of games.

Sunderland v Luton Town: Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final First Leg Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Ewan Bowman says…Amad

I could award ‘player of the season’ to a number of the lads but for me, it’s Amad Diallo.

What a signing and an even better player. He produced moments of magic out of absolutely nothing and scored some senstational goals.

He’ll be sorely missed and will go down as one of our greatest ever loan signings.

Sunderland v Luton Town - Sky Bet Championship - Play Off - Semi Final - First Leg - Stadium of Light Photo by Will Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

Ian Bendelow says…Amad

2022/2023 was perhaps the most competitive for a number of years when it comes to this award. So many of the lads had the campaign of their careers and deserve the recognition that goes with a playoff finish.

There are so many who can be mentioned in despatches but there’s one man, Amad, who sprinkled stardust on so many games, and it would be unfair to look any further.

In a season where we played some of the most exciting football in years, our Ivorian was the most enjoyable to watch.

Let’s not forget that he only turned twenty last July and he came to Sunderland very raw. However, his development and growth in confidence was a joy to behold - through the realisation that this level is really a bit too easy for him.

I wish him the best of luck at Manchester United next season and I’d love to see him make a real impression down there. He deserves it.

Sunderland v Luton Town: Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final First Leg Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Kingsley Reavley says…Danny Batth

Primarily because the other candidates (Amad, Clarke etc) wouldn’t have been able to flourish without his leadership skills, putting his body on the line and heading every ball that came near.

Batth has proved to be an unbelievably astute signing.

After being the bedrock of our backline in the second half of 2021/2022 and helping us out the doldrums of League One, his imperious form continued in the Championship.

Losing Ross Stewart and Corry Evans left Baath as one of the few senior players with any significant experience of professional men’s football. We needed leadership and a steady figurehead at the back, and that’s exactly what he provided.

He’ll be the first to admit hes not the quickest or most technically gifted but his no-nonsense attitude and professionalism more than makes up for anything else he might be lacking.

I doubt a single opposing centre forward could say they’d enjoyed an easy afternoon up against him, and if we’re looking to give out new contracts on improved terms during the summer, surely he should be at the top of the list.

Burnley v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says…Trai Hume

This may not be a popular choice but when it comes to going from fringe player to one of the first names on the team sheet, there aren’t many who can come even close to Hume, because he deserves this award as much as anyone at the club.

He played wherever the gaffer asked him to, he had to lead a very makeshift back line at times, and his defensive contributions threw shade on most of the rest of the rear guard, maybe with the exception of Danny Batth.

For years. we’ve struggled to find really high performance full backs and Hume has demonstrated that he’s exactly that, grabbing his chance with both hands once he got it.

He also contributed with goals and assists with a pair of each last season, one of which came against Luton as we took a 2-1 lead in the home tie.

With Hume, Dan Ballard, Aji Alese and Batth as a base for next season and with Niall Huggins on the road to recovery, we’ve got some really good options to build from as we prep for 2023/2024.

Sunderland v Luton Town: Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final First Leg Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Mark Wood says…Luke O’Nien

I’m going to pick O’Nien.

I feared for him a little at the start of the season, and with some of the risky challenges he was making, I thought that the Championship might turn out to be a level too high for him.

However, I needn’t have worried, as he came to our rescue when the injuries arrived, filling in for any position he was asked - and excelling.

I said it in an earlier roundtable, but he has such a great attitude that I reckon he would even play in goal if he was asked to.

Sunderland v Luton Town: Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final First Leg Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

Tom Albrighton says…Danny Batth

An absolute man mountain who’s aged like a fine wine. He puts his body on the line week on week, and he’d clatter his own mother to win a header for the lads.

Not only was he exemplary at the back, his on-the-ball work is nothing short of sublime and he played a huge part in us being able to play out from the back.

It’s no exaggeration to say without Batth, we would’ve been nowhere near the playoffs.

Sunderland Open Training Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Goal of the season

Andrew Smithson says…Alex Pritchard vs Huddersfield

We scored more crackers in a single season than some teams see in a decade, and the variety was impressive. There were team goals and individual screamers, so narrowing it down to just one seems very harsh.

Obviously the three goals at Reading will get a lot of attention but there are countless more that deserve a bit of recognition, too.

Just off the top of my head, there was Amad’s at Birmingham and Dennis Cirkin’s at West Brom, but my own favourite happens to be from the game at Huddersfield.

I think the poor conditions that night helped to make it memorable, because it was wet and windy and we’d been a bit out of sorts. The mood in the away end at half time was a bit tetchy but in the second half, the Lads shifted up a gear and the support went with them.

When it came to our opener, it was a fantastically incisive move that again started at the back. There were some good runs and one touch passes, and when Alex Pritchard popped up to tuck it away, the away end went mental.

Our second came from another quick break and that style has been great to watch. I’m already looking forward to 2023/2024 and I hope there’ll be more great goals to come!

Huddersfield Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by John Early/Getty Images

Dan Harrison says…Jack Clarke vs Hull

Once again, I’ll make a left field choice and go for Clarke’s goal against Hull during the thrilling 4-4 draw at the Stadium of Light on Good Friday.

Like the goal at Reading, we sprung out from the back, beating the press with a remarkable number of one-touch passes before Clarke slid the ball past Karl Darlow in the Hull goal.

The reason this stands out to me is simply due to the staggering audacity to attempt this move whilst penned in our own half in a game we’d twice been behind in, and with only limited time left on the clock.

The way Alex Pritchard was able to beat the press, Patrick Roberts & Amad’s ball carrying and Clarke’s finish all top it off for me.

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

Ewan Bowman says…Jack Clarke vs Reading

The goal of the season has to be Clarke’s goal at Reading, because the passing, the movement, the build up and the finish were all top class.

That day was a benchmark for the rest of the season for me as it showcased the football that we could play. There were numerous candidates for this: Patrick Roberts v Watford, and Amad v Preston and Luton, but this one just pips it to first.

Reading v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Ian Bendelow says…Jack Clarke vs Reading

Take yer bloody pick!

Just like the previous category, there are a number of absolute thrikers to choose from. Amad’s blockbusters vs Preston, Hull and Luton, Patrick Roberts at Reading and Watford, Alex Pritchard vs Huddersfield, and Jack Clarke against Rotherham.

However, the one goal I found myself watching again and again was Clarke’s strike at Reading in September, because it was absolute perfection in every way.

Each pass was inch perfect, and seeing almost the entire team contribute to the move was immensely satisfying. Even now, I’m getting excited at the memory of us winding through the gears and up the pitch, to Clarke dancing inside his defender and smashing it home.

Oh, to be in the away end at that moment!

Reading v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by David Horton - CameraSport via Getty Images

Kingsley Reavley says…Abdoullah Ba vs Norwich

One goal that sticks in the mind was scored by Ba at Carrow Road.

It might not have been as easy on the eye as others, but it epitomised everything positive about the direction of the club and how far we’ve come.

The goal itself involved clever and incisive link up play down the right between Patrick Roberts and Joe Gelhardt, who played in Ba about thirty yards from goal.

With Tony Mowbray's instructions of ‘express yourself’ likely still ringing in his ears, he unleashed a perfect finish beyond two defenders and the goalkeeper on his wrong foot.

For newly-signed teenager from France to have the belief and confidence to take the shot on shows the model of giving young players a platform to shine is working, and the fact it was his first senior goal for the club and we were able to come away with all three points rounded off a perfect away day.

Norwich City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says…Amad vs Luton Town

Given the situation we were in, I would have to put Amad’s free kick against Luton in the playoff semi-final as my goal of the season.

The bravery needed to decide to take a tap from Alex Pritchard and shoot is something in itself, and to have the confidence in your own ability to perfectly execute that curling beauty into the top corner with 46,000 fans watching was something we rarely see from a Sunderland player.

All the other goals mentioned carry a hell of a lot of merit, but cometh the hour cometh the man, and Amad is THE man for me.

Sunderland v Luton Town: Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final First Leg Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Mark Wood says…Dennis Cirkin vs West Brom

I’m going to pick Cirkin’s winner at The Hawthorns.

I think I counted twelve, thirteen or fourteen passes before he ran through and put the ball in the net, which also happens to be the dream amount for a coach who wants his team to pass.

West Bromwich Albion v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Tom Albrighton says…Jack Clarke vs Reading

Given that we’ve had their own in-house ‘Goal of the Season’ competition, this one is a far harder choice - but one goal sticks its neck out just ahead of the others.

Jack Clarke’s goal at Reading was worthy of all the plaudits it received, as we morphed into prime Barcelona & passed our way from front to back with some sublime one and two-touch football.

The final ball from Neil provided one of the assists of the season and accompanied to Clarkes touch inside and calm finish, it really added a touch of class to the absolutely sublime.

Reading v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images


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