Gary Rowell: Shades of Quinn and Phillips in Sunderland’s new strike pair

James Vaughan and Lewis Grabban are gelling well together.
James Vaughan and Lewis Grabban are gelling well together.
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Sunderland’s sensational win at Norwich moved them into a play-off place, and as Sunderland have played two of the teams predicted to be up there at the end of the season, I think Simon Grayson and the players are doing a better job than many expected.

Throw in progress in the League Cup with a comfortable win at Bury, and with the four points from six in the league, it is a start I would happily have taken before the campaign opened.

Ha'way Back When in association with John Hogg Funeral Directors

Ha'way Back When in association with John Hogg Funeral Directors

Before the game a lot of the talk in the build-up was whether the manager would stick with two strikers and Grayson must have been delighted he did just that as his bold team selection was rewarded with three points and both Lewis Grabban and James Vaughan were a huge part of the win.

I’m not saying, in any way, that they are the new Quinn and Phillips, but the crucial first goal had more than a hint of those two Sunderland greats about it with Vaughan’s flick on anticipated so well then finished superbly by Grabban.

It is always pleasing to see such good partnerships all over the park and as well as Grabban and Vaughan, centre backs Tyias Browning and Lamine Kone improved as the game wore on, while in midfield Didier Ndong and Lee Cattermole worked tirelessly.

However, my man of the match was Aiden McGeady, who with a goal and assist and his all round play is showing why Simon Grayson was so desperate to bring him to Wearside and at £250,000 what a bargain.

He also rates McGeady’s talent as good as anybody he has worked with and that ability to turn a game on its head with a piece of magic is going to be a huge bonus for Sunderland as this campaign goes on.

Sunderland fans are not used to seeing their team win in August so that is a jinx broken and with another three Championship games before September comes around, we have got to be aiming for a lot more points to set us up for a realistic promotion push.

Of course we are just two games into a marathon, but it is amazing how just one win can lift the mood and the Sunderland players must take advantage of the feel good factor that their Norwich win has created.

That humiliating pre-season defeat to Celtic followed by the Darron Gibson incident were dark days and threatened to de-rail Sunderland’s season before it even began and while not completely forgotten, the good start to the season has helped the club move on and that shocking few days seems a long time ago now.