We need to talk about Chris Maguire. When he arrived on a free transfer from relegated Bury in the summer, with a less than glowing endorsement from their fans, it was difficult what to make of the signing.
A hero at Oxford, the winger scored just two League One goals last season in a shocking campaign for Bury, and at 29 it’s safe to say he should be playing his best football.
I think we all know what he is about now.
His first positive influence in red and white came in the second half of the opening game against Charlton. Having given away a penalty in the opening stages, it couldn’t have started much worse for the Scot.
While much, and rightly so, was made of Jerome Sinclair’s impact, Maguire took the game by the scruff of the neck to drag Sunderland back into it – an indication of the player he has become.
Another impressive performance against Luton followed, and then came his first goal for the club, a lovely goal against Scunthorpe.
Performance levels did drop, and he was taken out of the line-up by Jack Ross, but my word did he respond. Introduced from the bench at Burton, he pinged in his third of the season and while it couldn’t save the game for Sunderland, it reignited a player who is clearly thriving after the move of his life.
Being honest, he probably can’t believe he is playing for Sunderland at this stage of his career, and to me is a player who is thriving on it.
Recent performances have been talismanic – his display against Rochdale was extraordinary, and further assists would come at Coventry.
It was against Peterborough on Tuesday night that anyone remaining unconvinced by Maguire surely became a firm member of the fan club. His overall display was impressive, his work for the second goal was stunning.
Plucking a long ball out of the air, displaying a piece of skill to turn his marker in a knot, he put it on a plate for Sinclair to finish.
Ultimately the goal would not win the game but the work he put in in the closing stages was a breath of fresh air. After years of having players who it seemed felt like they were doing us a favour being here, it is fantastic to see a player clearly loving every minute (and Maguire is not alone in this, it’s a pleasure to see so many players feel this way).
Gut-bursting runs to close down the goalkeeper as we were down to 10 men didn’t go unnoticed.
There will be games when he frustrates, and there already have been, but that is what you are going to get from this sort of player. Sure, Maguire will make the wrong decisions at times but the ones he gets right will win games, get us back into games, and ultimately could play a huge part in winning League One for the club.
This is his big moment, and it is time for us to all enjoy it with him.