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Sunday Sun - - Football - Stu­art Rayner

WITH 16 games gone, Sun­der­land’s first sea­son back in the Cham­pi­onship is more than a third of the way through, and it has been a ma­jor dis­ap­point­ment.

De­spite one of the big­gest wage bills in the di­vi­sion, the Black Cats are bot­tom of the ta­ble.

Now half­way through the in­ter­na­tional break, they will hope to have a new man­ager in place in time for the Septem­ber 18 visit of Mill­wall.

When­ever he comes in, Si­mon Grayson’s re­place­ment will need to make a quick as­sess­ment of the squad, with no scope to add new play­ers un­til the trans­fer win­dow opens in Jan­uary.

Here we give our as­sess­ment of how the Black Cats’ play­ers have per­formed this sea­son. Read it, then pass your own judge­ment on who has im­pressed and who has been let­ting the side down so far. LIKE Brown­ing, Ever­ton loaned Gal­loway to the Black Cats to learn more about the game, and it has been a tough les­son. He has looked out of his depth at left-back, never more so than at home to Leeds United, and Grayson quickly lost faith. The prom­ise of his early run in the Tof­fees’ first team is be­com­ing a dis­tant mem­ory. SPOKE a few home truths in the run-up to the sea­son, but un­able to back them up with ac­tions. A player of his (ad­mit­tedly fad­ing) qual­ity ought to have made more than four Cham­pi­onship starts, and ought to have had a greater im­pact on them. The only game he bossed was at Bury in the League Cup. IM­PRESSED in both his Cham­pi­onship starts, at Pre­ston and at home to Cardiff City, where he con­verted a gutsy penalty. Also scored at Carlisle United in the League Cup. De­served more op­por­tu­ni­ties when Lewis Grab­ban was in­jured. EIGHT goals in 12 Cham­pi­onship ap­pear­ances for a strug­gling side speak for them­selves, and his style of play makes Sun­der­land more ef­fec­tive too, his will­ing­ness to run in be­hind al­low­ing them to coun­ter­at­tack far more ef­fec­tively. His fin­ish­ing has been very good and the Black Cats were much weaker when he was in­jured. NOT as tal­ented as some or al­ways as con­sis­tent he might like, but bub­bly and en­er­getic on and off the field – Sun­der­land could do with more like him. Will­ing to run be­tween the lines and good enough to score three times in all com­pe­ti­tions, but it would be nice to see him do it from cen­tral mid­field rather than be­ing asked to do a job on the wing. IT looked like step­ping down to the Cham­pi­onship might pro­vide a chance for Jones to come into his own, but his mixed per­for­mances were re­flected in his in-and-out se­lec­tions. Per­haps it is a con­fi­dence is­sue but Sun­der­land’s most ex­pe­ri­enced Foot­ball League player is one of many they need more from. THE Repub­lic of Ire­land in­ter­na­tional has pro­vided out­stand­ing value for £250,000. He has brought craft and guile and scored some ter­rific goals. An in­di­ca­tion of what Grayson could do on a tight bud­get, but un­for­tu­nately a rare one. AN­OTHER who has looked good when he has played, will­ing to get to the by­line and get crosses in, but has

Tyias Brown­ing and Ai­den McGeady have been the pick of the Sun­der­land play­ers Brendan Gal­loway has looked out of his depth

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