One year ago, Aiden McGeady was unwanted at Sunderland. Phil Parkinson had made an early decision on the winger soon after being appointed as manager. McGeady, as far as Parkinson was concerned, was surplus to requirements. The fan favourite was out in the cold and eventually found himself on loan at Charlton Athletic. Fast forward to the current day and fans have seen Aiden McGeady rejuvenated under Lee Johnson, the man who replaced Parkinson following a dismal spell in charge.
Aiden McGeady has gone from the unwanted man of Sunderland’s squad to a key player. Lee Johnson’s arrival and McGeady’s reintroduction to the Black Cats’ first team has seen the Red and Whites move up the table and into automatic promotion contention.
Aiden McGeady Rejuvenated at Sunderland
Goals and Assists
Despite not figuring in the Sunderland first team until Lee Johnson took over from Phil Parkinson in December, McGeady has still recorded 13 assists and six goals. Although missing during Phil Parkinson’s time in charge this season, McGeady is currently top of the League One assist charts. The 35-year-old has also created the most chances for his teammates with 37. Two better than his nearest rival, Peterborough United’s Joe Ward. However, Ward has played more games than McGeady.
The skilful winger isn’t just creating when Sunderland have been in front and on course for victory, either. The former Republic of Ireland international has produced the quality needed at vital times be it via assists or goals. His free-kick against fellow promotion chasers Peterborough United on Easter Monday made sure Sunderland’s unbeaten run and promotion charge remained intact. He scored the goal to put his team in front against Oxford United on Good Friday.
Many of his assists have come when they have been needed the most. One in a 1-0 victory at Bristol Rovers and also the defence-splitting pass that brought the only goal of the game in the EFL Trophy final to record Sunderland’s first win at Wembley since 1973.
We have also seen a one-man show of assists as he laid on four goals for striker Charlie Wyke. His form since returning could make him a front-runner for the League One Player of the Year award.
Aiden McGeady has always had the skill to match many in Europe. His main issue over the years has been consistency. However, over the past 27 games, he has found that one missing ingredient his game lacked at times. His newfound consistent levels of performance has coincided with Sunderland’s own excellent run of results.
Sunderland, under Johnson, have lost just three times and are currently on an unbeaten run of 12 games. They also won the EFL Trophy at Wembley last month. With every game in which the Black Cats push for automatic promotion, it has been vital for Johnson’s key players to perform. Aiden McGeady has set the standard and others have followed.
Contract Ending This Summer but Wants to Stay
McGeady, like several other key first-team players, will be out of contract this summer. With some undoubtedly wanting to wait to see which division Sunderland will be in next season, McGeady has been one of the first to speak out, and it will be a message that will delight fans. When asked after the Peterborough draw if he wants to stay at the club beyond the current season, he said: Of course I do. I never wanted to leave Sunderland last January, I wanted to stay. That’s why I didn’t leave in the summer.
“I’m happy here and I want to be a part of the team that goes back up and then part of the team that maybe goes back up again – that’s the dream, for everyone here.”
Rejuvenated Aiden McGeady is a ‘Winner’ Says Lee Johnson
Head Coach Lee Johnson was quick to praise the 35-year-old when asked about the winger’s form and his future. Johnson spoke about an Aiden McGeady rejuvenated by his arrival after the recent fixture at Peterborough: “He’s a winner. He wants to play, he wants to influence and affect things. There might be times where we decide he’s going to have the rest, but I didn’t feel that today.
“I think he’s a got a couple of years left in him. He’s fit as a fiddle in terms of his sharpness. He’s still sharp over that five, ten yards He’s as quick as anyone if we did a ten-yard race. Obviously, you’ve got to look after your body – eat right, drink right, sleep well – and I don’t see any reason why he can’t continue to play.”
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