Joyous display underlines the big January decision looming for Jack Ross and the Sunderland hierarchy

Max Power said that he may well be the best player in the division.

Thursday, 29th November 2018, 9:00 am

On this form, it has hard to disagree with his verdict on Aiden McGeady.

The Irishman has been talismanic in very different but equally challenging games for Sunderland.

There is a joyful inevitablity when McGeady isolates a dedender and gets one-on-one at the moment. The only question is which side he’ll go past him.

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There is a pleasing chemistry between player and manager at the moment.

McGeady is delivering but he has been aided by a boss making tactical calls to best exploit his main strengths.

It is a similar story at right back, where Adam Matthews is clicking into an impressive gear.

Their performances are noteworthy because in a month or so, Sunderland have some big decisions to make.

Thanks to the honesty and openness of senior club figures, supporters have a strong sense of where the club is at ahead of the January window.

Better than expected revenues (and Charlie Methven’s call for a big Boxing Day attendance is part of that overall strategy) mean that Stewart Donald is hopeful he can provide some support for his manager.

Ross himself has said that he does not expect significant changes.

A successful return for Charlie Wyke and Duncan Watmore would leave him strong in the forward areas.

In midfield, Luke O’Nien is emerging as a crucial player and once Ethan Robson is fit again, he has a lot of options.

For a real overhaul to happen, further room on the wage bill would have to be cleared.

McGeady and Matthews are both players who once may have seemed possible candidates to make way.

Now, their absence would leave significant quality needing to be replaced.

At this level, it would not be easy to do that.

So on two levels, Sunderland have a call to make.
For Ross, there is a balance between the always useful tactic of freshening things up and maintaining the positive mentality he has built in the squad.

Ross views the togetherness and positive harmony around the squad as one of his main achievements since taking charge.

His recruitment team have been keeping a keen eye on the market in recent months and if he feels he can make an improvement, he will. If he feels he can add a different style of player to what he already has, he will.

But on the whole you sense he would be loathed to make change for changes sake.

You expect, too, that he will be very keen to resist the departure of any player who is currently delivering.

It has taken hard work to reach this level of understanding, unity and tactical flexibility off the pitch. Now that the results are followng he will be keen to maintain it.

For the hierarchy above Ross, there is a desire to keep brinigng Sunderland’s finances into line.

No supporter would quibble with their insistence that the club must be sustainable.

A bid for a higher earner in January, however, would spark an interesting debate.

If it is for a player who can see Sunderland over the line this season, would it financially make more sense in the long run to take the hit in keeping them on.

Particularly in the cases of McGeady and Lee Cattermole, you would have to say that it must be.

Though Ross rates his attacking qualities, Bryan Oviedo is one where there may be an obvious opportunity to make sensible savings.

Reece James has not put a foot wrong and Denver Hume looked a real talent on his introduction to the side earlier this season.

It is going to be a fascinating month that will reveal much about how Ross views his squad and how the club can progress not just over the following six months, but the season after that.

No one wants to lose Aiden McGeady running down the wing, nor Lee Cattermole ‘ratting about’.

How Sunderland’s manager and owners seeing the development of this squad unfold remains an interesting unknown.