MARTIN O’Neill insists January recruit Alfred N’Diaye should be given time to realise his potential at Sunderland, rather than being the victim of snap judgments.
N’Diaye has experienced the highs and lows of the Premier League during his first month at the Stadium of Light after starring on his full debut in the 3-2 win at Wigan before struggling in the subsequent two outings against Swansea and Reading.
But the 22-year-old made a more positive impression in last weekend’s defeat to Arsenal, to justify O’Neill’s conviction that the £3.8million new signing will prove to be a success in red and white.
Although the Sunderland manager stresses that N’Diaye still has plenty to learn, he hopes the midfielder will be given time to prove his worth for the Black Cats.
O’Neill said: “I think what happens nowadays, more so than ever before, is that you go into a football club and – let’s say you’re a goalscorer – if you haven’t scored in three games, I think you’re considered rubbish.
“If you’re a defender and you’ve let in a few goals it’s the same.
“There’s a rush now to judge players whereas in actual fact, you just need them to settle down and let them find their feet.
“Alfred has played a few games for us now and he’s absolutely fine.
“It’ll take him some time here, but we’ll see the best of him over time. He’ll be very strong for us.
“He’s just getting used to things.
“He’s strong and really keen to learn which is great.
“Of course, he’s got loads to do, but he wants to do it and I have plenty of confidence in him.”
N’Diaye is yet to break his duck for Sunderland, despite enjoying a couple of golden opportunities when showcasing his ability to bomb forward into advanced positions.
The former Bursaspor man headed over the bar from six yards out at Wigan, before slicing into the side netting when well-placed to hand the Black Cats the lead at Reading.
O’Neill added: “He’s got himself into some brilliant position on the field where we’ve actually been lacking before - getting players in advanced positions with a reasonably clear shot on goal.
“He’s scuffed a few, but that’s not a problem.
“If he’d scored those goals, his value might have been through the roof!
“He’s still learning the game.”