Wembley and Safe: (8) Borini stars in Keir’s ratings for a crazy season

Jake is sleeping soundly
Jake is sleeping soundly

The Wembley and Safe series has produced some excellent reads but even good things, maybe especially good things, must come to an end. Pete Sixsmith’s series-closer has arrived so, unless any dawdlers who really, really meant to write something do so pretty smartish, they’ll find themselves left on the harbourside, the boat duly missed. Here are young Keir Bradwell‘s season-long ratings. His thoughts have been a refreshing addition to Salut! Sunderland’s reflections on the mysteries of life and we very much hope he returns with more of the same next season …

I have decided
to rate these players on what I think would be their average performance, rather than their impact. Hence Cabral, who only played one game but looked reasonably good in it, earns a five, as supposed to a 0.1 for what he contributed over the season. Also, while the last few games we had were brilliant, those displays weren’t consistent and we were absolutely awful in many others, so I’ve tried not to let the “great escape” cloud my judgement.


Sunderland seem to have a knack of signing brilliant goalkeepers. When Mignolet was replaced by Vito Mannone, I feared the worst, but was very pleasantly surprised with how well he did over the season. If it wasn’t for Keiren Westwood’s injury though, he might not have ever played. Westwood, our number one up until that point, was considerably less successful, making a bit of a habit of conceding three a game. Ustari came in as back-up in January and my only real memory of him is when he saved a penalty at Hull in the FA Cup.

Keiren Westwood 5

Vito Mannone 7

Consistent, reliable and occasionally spectacular.

Oscar Ustari 6

Useful to have when needed.


Sometimes appalling, other times phenomenal. We’ve seen performances like Vergini’s at Liverpool, Brown’s at any of the games he’s scored an own goal/been sent off in, Dossena’s against Cardiff. We have, however, also seen performances like Marcos Alonso at Manchester United in the Cup at home, Brown at Manchester United in the league away, Phil Bardsley at Manchester City at home. Our defenders have all been ridiculously inconsistent.

Phil Bardsley 6

Started and ended the season appallingly for various reasons, but had a lovely spell of form in the middle of it.

Andrea Dossena

Hilariously shambolic.

Wes Brown 6

Went through phases of being brilliant one week, then absolutely woeful the next.

John O’Shea

His performances always seemed to be a lot like Brown’s, only slightly less spectacular.

Ondrej Celustka 4

Mr Invisible.

Modibo Diakite 3

Brilliant at Everton away, horrific at Cardiff, generally poor.

Carlos Cuellar 4

Did a job when required, usually.

Marcos Alonso

Almost always excellent, if a little slow.

Santiago Vergini 6

His performance against Liverpool wasn’t very good, but he’s been largely very good since.

Valentin Roberge

Never really made much of an impact on the first team, is average at best.

Jake: 'you've seen it all, being a Sunderland fan, in a single season, Keir'
Jake: ‘you’ve seen it all, being a Sunderland fan, in a single season, Keir’


We had quite a range of midfielders, really. At one end of the spectrum was Cabral, who will probably be forgotten by next month, and at the other was Cattermole, consistently rock solid. Here’s what I thought of them:

El Hadji Ba 5

Cracking youth prospect.

Ki Sung-Yueng 6

Declined in form as the season progressed.

Cabral 5

Only played one game, was okay in it.

Seb Larsson 5

Useless, except for the last few games, where he was phenomenal.

Craig Gardner 4

Failed to do much at all, really.

Jack Colback 5

Thanks for that 95th minute goal at Cardiff, Jack.

David Vaughan 4

Left very early on for Nottingham Forest, so didn’t really do much.

Emanuele Giaccherini 5

A disappointment after all his hype, but improved lots towards the end.

Liam Bridcutt 5

Seems to always come on for the last 10 minutes to “shore things up”.

Lee Cattermole 7


Charis Mavrias 5

Also a cracking youth prospect, but needs to play more.


Our strikeforce had been a problem, with Fletcher being nothing like he was the season before, Jozy Altidore being terrible and Connor Wickham not getting a look in. We’d been relying on goals from our wingers (who I’ve included in this section because they often did the centre-forwards’ jobs for them), never a good thing, up until the point the latter got recalled. And was incredible. Hasn’t had an entire season as our first choice striker yet, but when he does I think he may well be our Darren Bent replacement, at long last.

Steven Fletcher 2

Huge let-down.

Connor Wickham

Has all the makings of a top class centre-forward.

Jake: 'thanks Fabio'
Jake: ‘thanks Fabio’
Fabio Borini 7 (*** Player of the season)

My player of the season, mainly for the memories his goals bought. Two past the Mags, Wembley, against Manchester United in the cup, West Brom, Chelsea (twice), Southampton, Cardiff and Swansea, he scored when it mattered. Apart from at Swansea, when we lost anyway. Our top goalscorer, consistent, and someone who dealt with pressure brilliantly. I’d love it if he signed here permanently.

Adam Johnson 6
Had an incredible January, put didn’t really produce much outside of it.

Jozy Altidore 3
He didn’t quite manage to live up to expectations…

Ignacio Scocco 3
Needs to get used to the Premier League soon, otherwise he’ll just be permanently terrible.


A bit of a mixed bag, if I’m honest.

Paolo Di Canio

A bit mental

Gus Poyet 6

I felt his decision making at times has been very poor (Hull in the cup, five at the back), but credit to him for keeping us up after all we went through.

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2 thoughts on “Wembley and Safe: (8) Borini stars in Keir’s ratings for a crazy season”

  1. I’m not sure what Westwood has done to earn your ire Keir, but completely agree about Borini. He has contributed more to our cause than any loan player that I can recall.

    I just wish we’d stop signing so many players on loan because it just makes the manager’s job even more difficult to build any sort of a team. Alonso too has done well and Vergini is also still a loanee technically,

    Borini has been fantastic for us. I still don’t get the love in with Mannone. The only reason FB wasn’t Player of the Season IMHO was because he wasn’t ours. If he’d been our player than he’d have walked it.

    • Westwood – generally wasn’t very good. Conceded three a game AFAIR and I just didn’t have the same level of faith in him that I had with Migs, or Mannone.

      Borini was absolutely wonderful.
      I agree with the loan thing though, piles up the cost the next transfer window and usually weakens the team in the long run, we can’t quite replace them.

      I think Mannone’s brilliant, not quite Mignolet standard but still excellent, but Borini as you say would’ve stormed the awards do if he was ours.

      Next year…

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