Stephen Elliott: Sunderland need to ensure they manage Aiden McGeady's gametime better this season

After losing away to Burton, in a game that we did more than enough to win, it was hugely important to bounce back with a victory against Wimbledon.

Monday, 23rd August 2021, 5:58 pm

I didn’t think the performance was as impressive as earlier games this season, so when Carl Winchester’s shot deflected in you could sense the relief all around the ground.

It seemed to knock the stuffing out of the away team and you felt the result was only going one way.

Anybody that listens to me or reads my articles will know how much I rate Aiden McGeady. On Saturday though, I think he lacked that usual spark which we are accustomed to seeing from him.

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Carl Winchester celebrates a Sunderland goal.

I believe if we are going to see the best out of McGeady then the games he starts may need to be managed slightly better moving forward. At 36, playing Saturday, Tuesday and then Saturday again may prove too much for him.

He is an explosive player and hugely important to the team and I would hate to see him burnt out.

The manager has a squad of players where I feel he can afford to rest him at times and then maybe spring him on teams when they are tiring.

Okay, there is probably nobody else with his ability in the squad but that ability will only be totally effective when he is fresh.

If you look at chances and half chances created, Sunderland were still the most productive team and had it not been for some good stops from the Wimbledon keeper, Nikola Tzanev, then the scoreline would have looked a bit more comfortable.

Carl Winchester, a player who you can tell is itching to play a bit further forward, put in a really astute performance at right back.

Like Luke O’Nien has done in the past, Winchester has made the need for a right back in the squad a little less urgent. His goal on Saturday may have taken a huge deflection but he deserved that reward after the amount of energy he put into the game.

I’m sure he has long term aims of playing in the heart of the Sunderland team, and with the arrival of Niall Huggins that may come sooner rather than later. But for the time being Lee Johnson will be delighted with the Irishman’s performances so far this season in the back four.

On to the defensive line I have to say I think Tom Flanagan was outstanding at the weekend. He showed real leadership quality and got his head and body on nearly everything that came into the box.

He is building a fine understanding with Callum Doyle and you get the impression that both really enjoy playing alongside each other.

We can’t not mention the goalkeeper, Anthony Patterson.

After being drafted into the team after a late injury to Lee Burge, he didn’t look fazed and the clean sheet will do his confidence the world of good. He looked very commanding and although he didn’t have loads to do, everything he did do, was excellent.

In my opinion it was a bit of a scrappy game that was decided by a fluke goal. Nine points out of the first twelve is good going and sets up next week’s game against in form Wycombe nicely.

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