Aiden McGeady’s Sunderland career had perhaps been something of a slow burner, with flashes of quality but not quite the opportunity to really announce himself.
That all changed in the second half of his third game, at Norwich yesterday – a superb goal quickly followed by a superb assist, a fine cross to the back post headed home by Lewis Grabban.
The Ireland winger is well and truly up and running. From the manager and his tactics, to the strike force in front of him, the 31-year-old believes he has the perfect conditions to thrive.
He said: “There’s always a bit of apprehension signing for a new team. It couldn’t have gone any better for me at Preston, the manager coming here, the size of the club, it was a no-brainer.
“As soon as I heard of the interest it was just, ‘right, let’s get this done’. Obviously you then need to stamp your own authority on the team, how the fans will take to you, you’re starting again fresh.
“For me, I’m just delighted to get off to a good start.
“Lewis and James are perfect for me. For me to get the ball out wide, it’s great to know if I get half a yard with either foot I can put the ball in the box and those two will attack it.
“You saw with the third goal, it was a just a good ball in, the two lads were in there and Grabs got on the end of it.
“So far, the Celtic game aside, it has been promising and it can only get better.
“Vaughany works really hard. If he keeps working hard like that, the goals will come. Lewis has obviously started really well and George has kind of come from nowhere and had a really positive impact. In all aspects, it’s been good.
“There’s more to come.”
McGeady showed his superb instincts with his first goal in red and white.
George Honeyman’s corner was cleared to the edge of the area, where Lee Cattermole teed up his team-mates.
Despite the attentions of numerous onrushing markers, McGeady fired home.
After a number of eye-catching strikes for Preston last season, he hopes it will be a regular occurrence.
He said: “I was expecting Catts to volley it actually – he’s just played that disguised pass to me. I was caught a bit by surprise but just took a touch and caught it sweet.
“I’m comfortable shooting off my left. I scored a few like that last season, and I’m just delighted to get my first goal for Sunderland. The win is the main thing.”
For all McGeady’s guile, this was a win built on collective endeavour and the winger had high praise for James Vaughan, who flicked on Jason Steele’s long ball to set Grabban away for the opener.
He said: “That’s what his game is generally based on, winning headers, flick-ons, working hard and bringing others into play, he’s done all that, everything but score.
“I said to him, keep working hard and the goals will come, and he knows that.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game. Norwich are a possession-based team – they kept the ball well without really penetrating us in the last third.
“It was down to us to try to work hard, stifle them and hit them on the break. That’s what happened in the first half and, from there, we were able to pick up confidence.”