In a season where there has been very few highlights or good news stories for Sunderland fans, one of the few players who has come through it unscathed and with his reputation intact is Paddy McNair.
That might be because he’s been in the treatment room for the majority of it and hasn’t played very often, but when he has his performances have been good, especially as in a lot of them he can’t have been 100% fit.
Crucially, Sunderland as a team have always looked better with him in it.
The worry though is that relegation means other teams further up the ladder will be circling to pick up bargains from a struggling club, and I’m sure McNair will be a wanted man.
I’m also sure that having come from Manchester United, he’ll be less than thrilled a the prospect of third tier football.
But if Sunderland are to bounce straight back, we can’t afford to let one of our best players leave.
To do that he’s got to be persuaded that it will only be one season in League One, and that it won’t harm his career.
I’d tell him how important he is, that the team will be built around him, and I’d also give him the captaincy, to make it clear that he is the man to lead Sunderland back.
I don’t know a footballer who doesn’t like being loved, or being giving responsibility, and giving him the lead role next season just might appeal to him as a challenge worth taking on.