How do Simon Grayson’s summer Sunderland signings grade after Championship struggles?

Aiden McGeady, the pick of Sunderland's summer signings. Picture by Frank Reid
Aiden McGeady, the pick of Sunderland's summer signings. Picture by Frank Reid
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Sunderland’s squad underwent a major transformation in the wake of relegation from the Premier League.

A host of players left for pastures new including Jermain Defoe, Fabio Borini, Jordan Pickford and Vito Mannone, with 10 new faces arriving on Wearside.

James Vaughan: Grafting hard, but just one goal so far. Picture by Frank Reid

James Vaughan: Grafting hard, but just one goal so far. Picture by Frank Reid

Sunderland’s fortunes on the pitch haven’t changed much, though, with the Black Cats picking up just one win in their opening 11 Championship games.

Speaking ahead of the recent 5-2 thrashing at Ipswich Town, Grayson made it clear the players had to improve and cut out costly errors.

Grayson said: “I think if you were to grade a lot of them at this moment in time they’d be Cs, and B-s.

“If you’re going to get positive results you need B+s and As. They’ve shown moments in games, now it is about consistency.”

Jason Steele.

Jason Steele.

Sunderland produced a spirited display in their final game before the international break, a 2-2 draw at Preston North End but remain second-bottom.

So, 11 games in, how do Grayson’s summer signings grade?

ROBBIN RUITER

(Goalkeeper, free agent, 30, six appearances): C-

Keeper Robbin Ruiter. Picture by Frank Reid

Keeper Robbin Ruiter. Picture by Frank Reid

The goalkeeping situation has become a problem for Simon Grayson.

The Sunderland boss has chopped and changed his goalkeeping options, with neither managing a league clean sheet. By Grayson’s own admission, neither has cemented their place in the side.

If we were grading Ruiter based on pre-season, he would command a strong B+, but his performances since have dipped. He commands his area more than Jason Steele but will have been disappointed with some of the poor goals conceded against Barnsley and Sheffield United.

JASON STEELE

A big miss: Injured striker Lewis Grabban. Picture by Frank Reid

A big miss: Injured striker Lewis Grabban. Picture by Frank Reid

(Goalkeeper, £500,000 from Blackburn Rovers, 27, eight appearances): C-

Steele endured a nightmare debut against Celtic in pre-season, but he bounced back well, in goal for the draw with Derby, win at Norwich City and point at Sheffield Wednesday.

He was then dropped following the Leeds United loss until his recent return. He has been unconvincing, with shot-stopping is his strength. Fans remain unconvinced.

He doesn’t command his area and was on the receiving end of five goals at Portman Road, though he could do little about the majority. Sunderland were spoilt with Pickford but Steele and Ruiter both need to improve.

TYIAS BROWNING

(Centre-back, loan, 23, 10 appearances): B-

This grading may be controversial but one costly defensive slip aside against Nottingham Forest, Browning has been one of the brighter signings.

His pace and physical presence are assets. Grayson could do far worse than keep faith with Everton loanee Browning and John O’Shea through the October schedule.

MARC WILSON

(Centre-back, 30, free agent, five appearances): D+

We’ll give Wilson the benefit of the doubt that he will improve when his match sharpness improves, but so far he has been a disappointment.

The performances of the ex-Bournemouth and Stoke City defender, also comfortable in midfield, have been riddled with mistakes and rushed clearances.

He missed the Preston trip with a groin injury, and Grayson will be hoping he is back to full fitness as he will need Wilson to start firing on all cylinders soon.

BRENDAN GALLOWAY

(Left-back, loan, 21, seven appearances): D-

The defender has been poor since arriving on loan from Everton, one of Grayson’s first signings.

Bryan Oviedo and Adam Matthews are both ahead of him in the pecking order at full-back, Galloway has made seven appearances but has looked unconvincing at the back, with opposition teams targeting him down the left. A poor touch and poor positional sense are not helping his cause.

CALLUM McMANAMAN

(Winger, 26, free agent, five appearances): C

Has shown flashes but has only started three games since arriving on a busy deadline day, playing 248 minutes. The winger is clearly a real threat when he is on song, though, contributing two assists so far.

The international break has come at a good time for him and he will be a big asset when fully match fit. Him on one wing and Aiden McGeady on the other would be a real threat in the Championship.

JONATHAN WILLIAMS

(Midfielder, 23, loan, five appearances): C

Similar to McManaman, Williams had barely played any football this season before joining Sunderland on deadline day from Crystal Palace.

Williams has played 262 minutes for Sunderland, making three starts. In his early appearances, Williams looked full of energy, was all over the pitch looking for the ball.

Illness hit before the international break, though Williams is away on Wales duty. Grayson will hope he can call on him for the QPR game this weekend as he is comfortable in possession and potentially a key weapon in Sunderland’s midfield.

AIDEN McGEADY

(Winger, 31, £250,000 from Everton, 10 appearances, three goals): B+

The Republic of Ireland international is a class act. On his day, he is one of the best players in the Championship.

So far, he has scored three goals for Sunderland – two crackers against Norwich City and Ipswich Town and a cool finish in the draw with Preston.

A hamstring injury picked up on international duty in September hit Sunderland hard, but he is back now and a run of games will benefit him – and the Black Cats.

The pick of the signings.

JAMES VAUGHAN

(Striker, £500,000 from Bury, 29, 14 appearances, one goal): B-

This may prove a controversial mark considering Vaughan has just a single goal in 14 appearances since arriving, but he doesn’t half put in a shift.

Vaughan leads the line well, doing the dirty work and you can’t fault his work ethic. You can fault his goalscoring record since arriving on Wearside, a goal at Hull City aside.

The Sunderland midfield need to get bodies closer to him to benefit from his knockdowns and get the widemen crossing from the flanks, balls that he can attack in the area. Vaughan and Lynden Gooch worked well in tandem at Preston, but he has missed Lewis Grabban alongside him. Having Duncan Watmore back will also help his game.

LEWIS GRABBAN

(Striker, loan, 29, eight appearances, three goals): B+

Bournemouth loanee Grabban hasn’t played due to a hamstring injury since September 12, but he is still joint top scorer with three goals. He hadn’t scored in his last five appearances before injury struck, but he offers Sunderland’s biggest goal threat and has been a huge loss. His return can’t come soon enough.