Chris Maguire opens up on Sunderland frustration, superb comeback and why he can be a key player for the run-in
Just over a week ago Jack Ross set a challenge for Chris Maguire.
The talented and immensely popular forward had dropped out of the picture and at Oxford United, out of the squad altogether.
Ross told Maguire to prove him wrong.
Do that, and there would be no ego or bitterness on the manager’s part.
Maguire had to be patient but ultimately he responded in style.
A superb cameo turned what could have been a humiliating defeat into a draw, Maguire influential in both goals and his team’s general play as Sunderland finally found some composure and bite.
It was a timely reminder of the 30-year-old’s abilities and he hopes he has given the manager a big decision for the visit of Gillingham on Tuesday night.
“As a footballer, you want to play,” Maguire said.
“These are the types of games you thrive on, live on Sky, 2-0 down, you go out there and change the game, people will be talking about you.
“But that’s the way the squad is now, people are fighting for their places.
“The last few weeks have been tough because it’s not nice.
“The type of player I am and the position I play, you feel like you can always contribute something towards the game.
“It is difficult, you’re sitting on the side and you can’t influence it.
“You’ve got to keep the right frame of mind, believe in yourself that when get the chance you can influence it.
“Hopefully I’ve staked my claim.”
Ross knows he has a big task in managing a big squad through this period.
He prides himself on his communication with this players, especially when they are not a prominent part of his starting XI.
Maguire says he has a great relationship with the Black Cats boss and believes his superb return was testament to the work he has done to fight his way back into the picture.
“You want to know the reasons [why you’re not playing],” he said.
“To be fair I’ve got a great relationship with the gaffer, he’s been honest with me and I’ve been honest with him.
“That’s football, sometimes you find yourself out of the team.
“With the new additions in January, the squad is bigger and people are fighting to get in the 18 never mind the team.
“He’s told me what I need to do and I think I’ve done that the last couple of weeks.
“Tonight, I think I’ve done that on the pitch.
“I feel good, it’s been a case of working hard behind the scenes, getting my head down in training.
“If you sulk you’re not going to be at it when you get your chance.
“When you get the chance on the pitch you’ve got to show it, and now it’s up to the manager what he wants to do on Tuesday.”
If Maguire can replicate the quality of his cameo, it will be a big lift for the Black Cats.
The atmosphere in the Stadium of Light was excellent for the closing stages of this draw, with Maguire’s influence key.
The forward is clearly a player who thrives ont he pressure and expectation.
That could be vital at this stage of the season.
“I want to do well at this club and I think the fans can see that,” he said.
“I want to get promoted, that’s what I came here to do.
“I want to play in that Stadium in front of that crowd, and I feel I’ve got the quality to go out and show it.
“The fans have had a tough time, so you can understand that passion.
“At the end, they can see the fighting spirit, I think it’s different from a couple of seasons ago.
“They can see everyone wants to do well and hopefully come the end of the season it will have been a good one. “
A 2-2 draw with Accrington Stanley meant the overall feeling on Wearside was one of further frustration, but Maguire insists his team are still in contention.
“It’s not a great start from us but the fight and desire we showed to come back, at the end we could probably have won it,” he said.
“But it’s a point towards our goal and it’s not a defeat .
“You look at the table, we’ve only been beaten twice this season.
“But a lot of those have been draws as well.
“They’re the ones, if you win a few of them the table looks very different and you’re probably ahead in the league.
“We’re still in contention, we know what we need to do and a point is better than nothing at the end of the day.”