After Jordan Pickford departed for Everton, Sunderland had a difficult job in trying to find a replacement. The fans’ choice was already at the club in Vito Mannone. However, when he was also sold, at least one new keeper was needed. In came Jason Steele from Blackburn and Robin Ruiter joined after a trial. It is safe to say that Steele was a disastrous signing and Ruiter fared little better.
When the Black Cats were once again relegated, a new keeper was one of the first positions that needed looking at. Once Jack Ross became manager he identified Scottish international Jon McLaughlin. The shot-stopper came in on a free transfer and so far he has been, without a doubt, the best keeper on Wearside since Pickford.
Sunderland’s Goalkeeper Problems are Now Gone
Signed For Free
31-year-old McLaughlin had an excellent season with Hearts, helping to achieve the second best defensive record in the league. However, he only signed a one-year deal with the Edinburgh club. In the end, Hearts could not hope to match contract offers from elsewhere. Manager Craig Levin could not speak highly enough of the keeper. “When he does move on, he moves on with my best wishes and everybody else at the club because he’s been a great player to have around the dressing room as well as on the field.”
When Jack Ross took over at the Stadium of Light, he made the 6ft 3in keeper one of his first signings. “He’s a really good signing for us because he will bring security and stability to that position, as well as experience to the team, and play a key role moving forward.” His attributes are something Sunderland badly missed during last seasons disastrous campaign.
Experienced in the EFL
McLaughlin brings plenty of experience of the EFL with him – something which he is showing now on a weekly basis. He spent six years at Bradford, helping them to promotion and a League Cup final. He then had three seasons with Burton Albion. Again, he experienced promotion not once but twice as the club climbed from League Two to the Championship.
So Far, So Very Good
His performances this season have not gone unnoticed. Fans, staff and the media are singing his praises and he has also been recalled to the Scotland squad. He has given his team, and also the fans, confidence that there is a very reliable man in goal. His saves, including two penalty saves, have helped earn his team points in games they could have lost or drawn.
In Jon McLaughlin, Sunderland have a keeper who could be a huge factor in the Black Cats having a successful season. The points he has helped win with his heroics already, and undoubtedly will continue to do so, could be the difference in whether Sunderland are promoted automatically or miss out.