The statistics that prompted Sunderland to offer Aiden McGeady a new deal - and the balance that now must be struck
Amid a raft of contract calls made at the end of the season, of little surprise was the decision to offer Aiden McGeady fresh terms.
The winger was one of four players offered an extended stay at Sunderland while seven players departed.
And with McGeady understood to be edging closer to agreeing fresh terms on Wearside, supporters will once again be excited to see the creative force in full flow again next season.
McGeady undoubtedly made an impact when he came back into the Sunderland fold in December and his performances under Lee Johnson more than warranted the offer of a new deal.
But just how big was the impression he made on the squad? We’ve crunched the numbers to find out:
The headline figures
Sunderland played 37 games in all competitions with McGeady during the 2020/21 season and 21 without.
And taking just the club’s League One fixtures into account, then we can begin to see the impact made by the winger.
In league games in which McGeady did not feature, the Black Cats picked-up 25 points – compared to 48 in the games where he was involved.
On a points-per-game basis, that sees a rise from a PPG of 1.56 in the games without the 35-year-old to 1.6 PPG in the fixtures in which he was on the field.
That may only be a slight improvement – and there will be plenty of other factors at play, not least the arrival of head coach Lee Johnson – but that statistic does indicate the positive influence McGeady had on the side’s results in the second half of the season.
A threat in front of goal
A simple look at Sunderland’s ‘goals scored’ column before and after McGeady’s return to the fold speaks volumes.
But the goals per game statistic may paint a slightly different picture – given that the Black Cats averaged 1.66 goals per fixture both with and without McGeady in the side.
However, it’s important to give that some context.
Two of the games in which McGeady was not involved were the high-scoring affairs against Aston Villa under-21s and Carlisle United in the Papa John’s Trophy.
If you disregard those anomalies, then Sunderland were undoubtedly a more threatening team in front of goal with McGeady in the side.
Assuming all goes to plan and McGeady does put pen to paper as expected, then he will be a key players again for the Black Cats next season.
His return to the side showed the impact he can have, but a balance will have to be struck next season.
While the former Celtic and Everton man remains one of the most talented players in the third tier, Sunderland will need to ensure they do not become over-reliant on McGeady.
That has perhaps been the case in recent years, and is arguably little surprise given the obvious talent of the winger.
But moving forward, McGeady cannot be the club’s sole creative influence. While he will create plenty, so too must others if promotion is to be achieved.