The verdict on every Sunderland AFC player in 2018/19 delivered in end-of-season grades

Sunderland's season ended in Wembley heartbreak but how did the players perform over the whole season?

By Phil Smith
Saturday, 01 June, 2019, 09:56
A promising and mostly enjoyable campaign ended in Wembley heartbreak

Phil Smith delivers his verdict.....

By some distance the signing of the season. Exceptional shot-stopping when needed and had a constant command of his box. A+
Leaving club after limited involvement, but did perform well when called upon in the Checkatrade Trophy. C-
On occasions he looked like an elite full-back at this level, but injury gave Luke ONien a chance and he will be disappointed with his minutes played in the second half of the campaign. C+
Debate continues as to his best position but after a rocky start, made a significant contribution and won everyone over with his attitude and enthusiasm. Will surely have a big role next season. B+
Looked like a big season for the youngster but injury meant he spent most of it on the sidelines. Pre-season will be crucial if he has to a real first team future, with one year left on his deal. E
Came in for criticism late in the season and has much to improve in possession, but was arguably the most consistent centre-back after spending most of his career so far at full-back. B
Season ended in disappointing style but few played more games than the defender. At times looked a real talent, but consistency and confidence was a clear issue. C+
Showed his worth in the final weeks of the season and may have played his way into the plans for next year, but will be nevertheless be disappointed at his league minutes over the season as a whole. C
Attitude, leadership and professionalism were praised constantly behind the scenes but did not play a minute after seeing red at Fratton Park before Christmas. Struggled against quick forwards in the early part of the season. D
Produced some important performances, particularly at Bristol Rovers away, but is still developing his game in possession and at times it showed. Will be a far better player for the experience. C+
Showed his quality in patches and delivered vital assists at times, but nowhere near consistent enough given his talent and experience. Looks likely for a summer exit. C+
Proved to be a reliable performer, though admitted himself that he can offer more going forward. Rarely made defensive errors and only frustration was the occasional injury. B-
Impressed the manager behind the scenes and has played his way into the plans for next season. Will be some frustration at a serious injury and some indifferent displays right at the end of the season. A real prospect, though. B-
Started and ended the campaign strongly after a challenging period that saw him receive three red cards, one of them subsequently overturned. Showed he can produce consistently at this level. B-
Future was uncertain in pre-season but his contribution over the course of the season was very good and was a key figure on and off the pitch for Jack Ross. Produced his best ever goalscoring season and by a distance at that. B+
Never produced his pre-season form but was arguably never given the chance too, either. Had injury niggled but some strong displays leave the feeling he wasnt used enough. C

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Would have started the season had he not suffered an injury. Never got started, through no fault of his own, but did at least get valuable playing time at Dundee to push his claims for his next campaign. C
Could not have done more to push his credentials with an excellent campaign in a struggling Grimsby Town side. Looks ready for first team action regularly, whether it be at Sunderland or elsewhere. B+
Fell short of his goal target and is perhaps still searching for his best midfield position, but the distances he covered remained exceptional and Ross regularly referred to his unseen contributions. B
Brought composure and poise on the ball, as well as transforming Sunderlands set piece threat. Ross was never quite able to find the right partner but he will be vital next year. B
Opportunities in the first team became limited as the season wore on and more and more experience was added to the midfield ranks. But he showed he is more than capable of stepping up, performing with real maturity. B
A season in two parts. Crucial in the first and with an indisputably impressive output in terms of goals and assists. Struggled thereafter and lost his regular place in the XI. B-
Second half of the season was frustrating with occasional dips in form and injury problems, but contribution over the campaign was good and he proved to be a new cult hero. Showed he can handle the pressure of this club. B+
Looked like he might be a luxury this season but quickly became essential. A leader on and off the pitch, dragged his side through tricky games and was a major absence when not available. A+
His technical quality and ability to beat a defender was never in question but his finishing was frustrating, and has work to do on the physical side in replicating that contribution over 90 minutes. C+
Suffered yet more injury frustration must moments after scoring a vital league goal at Wycombe Wanderers. A full post-season break and subsequent pre-season should make a major difference. C
Has a big challenge to improve his game awareness and make regular contributions, but no doubting his enthusiasm and raw talent. Defenders clearly hated facing him in the Checkatrade Trophy. B
Stewart Donald admitted his January departure was one of his biggest regrets. A quite incredible scoring record and his clinical streak put Sunderland in a strong position before he left. A*
Looked some on the opening day, but that stoppage-time injury hurt and his confidence slowly ebbed away on his return. No doubting his attitude or work-rate, but just not enough consistent quality in the final third. D+
Unlucky to suffer a badly-timed injury and Sunderland did not always play to his strengths, but the Black Cats will need to see more of the quality shown in patches against the likes of Walsall and Bristol Rovers. C
Had an excellent spell after the Checkatrade Trophy when finally fully fit, but four league goals was an ultimately frustrating return. Needs more, and more support, next season. C+
Harsh on the youngster that his arrival was followed just over an hour later by Will Grigg. Looked raw in his rare appearances but never had a sustained chance to make an impact. D