Former Sunderland director Charlie Methven has admitted that Josh Maja was not to blame in the debacle that saw him leave the club…
“It certainly wasn’t Josh’s fault, if anything it was our fault, and a lack of communication between the football director and Jack Ross. We should have made sure he was tied down to a longer contract before they started him as their first-choice striker. It was the seminal moment of our ownership of Sunderland. It was unfair. It was dramatised, it amped up the awkward moments. I don’t think it fully reflected the genuinely difficult position that a young man found himself in. It is very, very hard to deal with aggressive questioning from fans in public spaces. If you're 19, what is he going to say? Yeah, sorry. No, my agent is talking to other clubs, I'll be gone soon. It's very difficult.”
“I think Josh would have been happy to stay. He never agitated for a move, but there's a good reason why people have agents. His agent was very experienced and successful, he took the view that his future would be best served progressing at a higher level. What's happened in the intervening two years has probably borne that out. The fact that he's now starting up front for a Premier League club would hardly suggest that his career has been badly managed. No one would have a bad word to say about Josh, the guy trained every single afternoon. Clearly the culture at Sunderland had been that nobody trained in the afternoon."
Former SAFC boss, Jack Ross added, "Josh had come up through the academy and having worked with him day in, day out, one thing I would stress is that he was incredibly courteous and polite. He was popular at the training ground, never mind just with the players. Before he left to go to Bordeaux, he returned to pick up some things. He left some small gifts for myself, the coaching staff and the other staff around the academy and the training ground. They had small handwritten notes from Josh - a little personal message in it. That was the part people probably don't see. The fact is, he's a young man, at 20, he took the time to do that. He made that effort. That's him in a nutshell. He was a really, really nice young man and I still keep in touch with him."