Corry Evans: B-
We missed our skipper during the run in.
He brings a degree of calm to the team that other players can’t seem to, and he also covers for defenders who push up the pitch.
I’m confident that we’ll see one of his volleys from a corner nestle in the back of the net next season, because he came so close on numerous occasions at the start of the season.
Elliot Embleton: C-
This might seem a bit harsh, considering that he hasn’t played since December, but Embleton is a player we’ve got to replace if we want to push on next season.
On his day, he’s quality, but his day comes around once every fifteen games.
Too often a passenger, he’s lightweight and often shirks a challenge, which is ultimately what led to his leg break at Hull.
Abdoullah Ba: B-
A positive first season in England for the Frenchman.
Ba is very good on the ball and if he can improve his work off the ball, he could be the real deal. Silky in possession and with an eye for goal, the midfielder will be looking to cement his place in the team next season.
He can sometimes go missing in games and he’s still a bit raw, so hopefully the coaching team can help him refine his game so we can push on towards the Premier League!
Alex Pritchard: B
I was very critical of Pritchard up until the Easter period.
He was a victim of having no strikers, I felt that he hadn’t shown enough to warrant a place in the team, and that his days as a Sunderland player were fading.
However, following Amad’s penalty against Hull to make it 3-3 in that crazy game on Good Friday, we didn’t score a goal without Pritchard on the pitch and that shows just how important he is to the team.
He was somewhat involved in almost every goal in that run, too, and it wasn’t a coincidence.
Edouard Michut: C+
It’s a shame that the option hasn’t been taken up to sign Michut on a permanent deal, but if the player doesn’t want to stay, it’s not up to the club.
Michut was good and fared well against teams who sat off our midfield. He played particularly well against Fulham in the FA Cup, threading one excellent pass through to Jack Clarke in the second half.
I think his importance (or lack thereof) to the team was highlighted throughout the season when Tony Mowbray would use other players over Michut until injuries meant he was almost forced to use the youngster, and he never seemed to impose himself in games.
The Frenchman does have a very high ceiling and is bound to play in the Premier League at some point. All the best to him!
Dan Neil: B
There’s a lot of talk around Neil and whether he’s as good as everyone makes him out to be.
In fairness, he was our most senior midfielder for a large part of the season and his game has definitely improved, especially on the defensive side. He’s still only twenty one and has taken on that responsibility well, considering he’s still so young.
Like most of the players in the squad, Neil’s ceiling is very high and it’s no surprise to see him linked with a move to the Premier League.
Pierre Ekwah: B
Rarely do you see a player who’s been written off so early in their Sunderland career become such an important player in as short a time as we saw with Ekwah, because he’s the midfielder we’ve crying out for for years.
Early on, he seemed to continuously trip over his own feet, mishit simple passes and get in the way of his teammates. However, he’s now taking games by the scruff of the neck, gliding elegantly across the pitch with the ball at his feet and spraying passes at will.
Consecutive 10/10 performances against Preston and Luton at the end of the season sent the hype off the scale, and Ekwah now has to replicate that next season!
Jay Matete: D
I struggle to see a scenario in which Matete is a Sunderland player next season.
Unfortunately, the progression of the team has come a bit too quickly for a player who really isn’t bad at all, but who isn’t as good as those around him.
Matete was promoted to the Championship for the second season in a row this season, on loan at Plymouth, and his time at Home Park got off to a really good start, with their fans waxing lyrical about him.
Unfortunately, after a shocker at Wembley in the Papa John’s Trophy final, he rarely featured for the Pilgrims during the run in and was limited to appearances off the bench.
I like Matete but football is ruthless and I think that he’ll fall victim to the new ‘Sunderland Way’.