Sunderland vs Wigan will be our last game of 2022. So what better time to look back at the start of this season, and rank every player to step onto the pitch for us, whether that be under Alex Neil or Tony Mowbray...
AJI ALESE: B
The West Ham fans were gutted to see Alese leave in the summer, and we’ve seen why. He’s recovered from a poor debut in the cup against Sheff Wed to become an important player on the left side of defence, whether that be at centre half or fullback.
AMAD DIALLO: A
After a slow start Amad has gradually improved game-by-game and is now one of the best players in the Championship! His technical ability is unbelievable and, despite only being on loan, the Manchester United man has really connected with fans and bought into the project at Sunderland.
ABDOULLAH BA: C
Limited to substitute appearances bar one start, Ba has shown plenty of potential while still embedding into the team.
ALEX BASS: C
Sunderland needed a backup keeper and Alex Bass was available. Played once against Sheff Wed and, unless Patto gets injured, he won’t be seen in the league this season. Already a cult hero though for his goalscoring exploits against the Mags’ reserves...
DANNY BATTH: A
Solid as a rock in every game this season, he’s been one of our most consistent performers. In a young, small squad Batth has added some crucial experience and physicality to the backline.
DAN BALLARD: C
Looked like a steal from Arsenal at the start of the season, before a big injury disrupted his season. More to come from Ballard but the signs look extremely promising.
JEWISON BENNETTE: C
Hasn’t started a game yet and is still adapting to the English culture, but shown what he can do off the bench against Watford. Offers something different out wide and is clearly an exciting talent.
DENNIS CIRKIN: B
One of the underrated players in the team in my opinion, you know what you’re getting with Cirkin whenever he’s on the pitch. A solid defender who likes to help Clarke in attack (although they look identical). Struggled a bit with injuries, and is now competing with Alese at left back.
JACK CLARKE: B
Started the season on fire, scoring our first goal back in the Championship. Faded slightly as the limelight shifted to Amad on the right, but Clarke has been such an important figure in the first half of the season – whether that be as a winger, wing back or makeshift striker.
LEON DAJAKU: D
We signed Dajaku permanently in the summer to very little fanfare. Had an opportunity in the Championship when all of our striker were injured but hasn’t shown anything to suggest he should be in Tony Mowbray’s plans.
JACK DIAMOND: C
Only played a handful of minutes before joining Lincoln on loan, where he has impressed in League One.
ELLIOT EMBLETON: B
Provided a spark of creativity from midfield, chipping in with a few goals and assists. Particularly effective from the bench, often replacing Alex Pritchard on 60 minutes. Sad to see him face a lengthy layoff now after his injury at Hull.
CORRY EVANS: A
A mainstay in the midfield, the club captain has been a huge calming presence this season alongside his young teammates. When he’s not in the team, you see how much he’s missing.
LYNDEN GOOCH: B
Gooch used to be a figure of frustration amongst fans, but this season he’s transformed into a solid, Championship-quality right back. A key man in the dressing room at 27 years old now, he’s one of the experienced heads.
NIALL HUGGINS: C
Made his long-awaited return from injury against Birmingham but that is the only game he’s played so far.
TRAI HUME: C
Hume has been unable to push Gooch out of the right back slot, and has looked pretty dependable, if a bit lightweight, in the limited games he’s played.
JAY MATETE: D
Most of his appearances have been from the bench, coming on to see games out and protect the defence. He’ll be frustrated by a lack of opportunity and, depending on the state of the squad in January, a loan move may be the best option for the former Fleetwood man.
EDOUARD MICHUT: D
A high-profile arrival from PSG but injuries have prevented Michut from making an impact on Wearside.
DAN NEIL: A
Adapted to Championship football really quickly, helped of course by Evans. Needs a bit more consistency and more of a defensive presence to get to that next level but considering he’s 21 and never played in this league before, he’s obviously been a success.
LUKE O’NIEN: A
We signed him as a League One standard attacking midfielder, and he’s naturally become a Championship standard centre half! Not to mention he’s 5 foot 9. Even when Ballard, Alese, Batth and Wright are all fit I would argue O’Nien deserves to start in defence.
ANTHONY PATTERSON: A
The academy graduate has firmly solidified his place as Sunderland’s number one with some great displays in the Championship. Brings a calmness and composure to the defence and never looks nervy. A far cry from when he was thrown in at the deep end in League One.
ALEX PRITCHARD: B
One of our most creative players last season and that has continued into the Championship. A leader on the pitch and is an important part of Tony Mowbray’s plans. His contract is up in the summer, tie him down!
PATRICK ROBERTS: B
Undoubted quality, but he’s had limited opportunities because of Amad on the right. Mowbray has already spoken about how difficult it is to fit them both in. He’ll be looking to improve on his two goals and three assists as the season goes on.
ELLIS SIMMS: B
Formed a great partnership with Ross Stewart, scoring twice on his debut. A smart finisher who has really clever movement for a young lad. Still room for improvement though, and it was such a shame he got injured around the same time as Stewart.
ROSS STEWART: A
Last season’s top scorer has looked perfectly comfortable at this level, scoring seven goals in just nine games. Despite missing almost four months with injury, he’s only five goals away from the Championship top scorers! We’ve been in this situation before - pay him whatever he wants and give him a long-term contract ASAP.
CARL WINCHESTER: C
I thought it was pretty harsh on Winchester to give him just the one cup game this season, before sending him on loan to Shrewsbury to see out his SAFC contract. A good utility man with a great engine, who helped us win promotion and could have been useful around the squad this year with our ever-growing injury list.
BAILEY WRIGHT: C
Struggled for game time this season, but came into form just before the World Cup and ended up going to Qatar with Australia. Another good experienced head to have in and around the dressing room.