Sunderland’s second season in their history in League One is just past the midway point. The summer saw plenty of changes with new owners, management and players. Here is a look back at the players, performances and goals as we give you the Sunderland Midseason Awards.
Black Cats Midseason Awards
Performance of the Season
There have been some excellent games and performances so far this season, some for different reasons. For example, Bradford at home, where the team were roared on by a League One record attendance of over 46,000. Or Gillingham away, where the Black Cats came from behind to run riot.
However, the game that gets the award is the 4-2 home victory over promotion rivals Barnsley. It was a six-goal thriller which kept the supporters on the edge of their seats throughout. Sunderland raced into a three-goal lead through Aiden McGeady, Josh Maja and Lynden Gooch. The football that was played by the home team, especially in the first half, was the finest seen in many years.
Sunderland survived a scare as Barnsley hit back with two goals after half-time. However, the Black Cats would not be denied the victory their performance deserved. Substitute Luke O’Nien scored the fourth to secure the victory over their rivals for promotion.
Player of the Season So Far
Several players contested for this award. Some of them new, such as Chris Maguire and Jon McLaughlin. Others were those been at the club for longer, such as George Honeyman, Lynden Gooch and Aiden McGeady. However, the player to secure this award with 36% of a Twitter poll is top-scorer Josh Maja.
The 20-year-old has scored 15 goals so far this season. His form has attracted interest from Championship and Premier League clubs. Sunderland have offered the newly crowned North East Football Writers’ Association Young Player of the Year for 2018 a new contract. However, it appears that between the player and his agent, his time at Sunderland could be coming to an end.
The Black Cats have scored some very good goals so far. Some were team moves, some individual brilliance. The goal that gets this award comes courtesy of a player that some fans call ‘The King’. Chris Maguire’s 30-yard blockbuster into the top corner against Southend claims this award.
This goal secured his second Goal of the Month award. His first was another contender away at Burton. Maguire, for the best part of this season, has been in excellent form since his switch from Bury in the summer. He is relishing playing in front of large crowds and he is delighting them with his performances and goals.
Another one where one of several could have been picked. However, it is summer signing Jon McLaughlin who wins. The goalkeeper has been a breath of fresh air this season, commanding his goal and producing some match-winning displays and saves.
Since the departure of England international Jordan Pickford to Everton, the Black Cats have struggled to find a replacement. Last season, three keepers were used and all three contributed mistakes that led to soft goals and defeats. In McLaughlin, Sunderland now have a keeper they can rely upon. After signing on a free transfer, the Scottish international has proved to be an excellent piece of business.
Most Improved Player
Josh Maja could have collected his second award here and few would have argued. However, the forward misses out to midfielder George Honeyman. The local lad has been at the club since the age of ten and now is finally fulfilling his potential. He showed flashes of his ability last season but since Jack Ross has become manager he has become a player to be one of the first, if not the first, names on the team sheet.
24-year-old Honeyman was made captain by Ross at the beginning of the season. Some fans were unsure if this was the correct decision; however, he has slowly proved them wrong. To the point where when he has been out of the side through injury, his absence is noticed.
Best Young Player
Josh Maja picks up his second award here. The striker has recently turned 20 and his goals before this made him the highest scoring teenager in the country. Only Kylian Mbappé was ahead of him in Europe. If reports are true, then the striker may not be a Sunderland player for long. Wherever he ends up, a close eye should be kept on the ever-improving Josh Maja.