Adam Johnson looks a reborn player. Wes Brown’s return instantly lifts confidence in the back four. Bardsley is back to where he was when voted player of the season.
But the main reason Sunderland have been playing better in most recent games is arguably the cool, intelligent and secure contribution of our on-loan South Korean midfielder Kin Sung-Yueng.
Ellis Short must be turned upside and the money shaken out of his pockets if necessary to make the move from Swansea permanent. If he could be persuaded by Martin O’Neill a year ago to shell out £5m on Danny Graham, finding the price for Ki is surely so obvious a step that Gus Poyet shouldn’t even need to ask.
Someone said at Twitter that he’d never seen a better-worked Sunderland goal than Johnson’s second at Craven Cottage. The finish was, indeed, clinical and Johnson fully merited the hat-trick he ensured by letting it be known no one else would be allowed to take the penalty even if Messi ran on as substitute.
But Ki’s perfectly weighted pass was incisive attacking football at its best. He always looks comfortable on the ball and rarely surrenders possession. With Fletcher and Altidore struggling for goals, his sharpness in that department is also a refreshing boost for the team.
If Michael Laudrup’s words can be taken at face value, Sunderland would be banging on an open door. He has apparently said Ki would spend most of the time on the bench if recalled – are the other Swansea midfielder that good? – and that it would be unfair on a player who still has hopes of a Wembley appearance in red and white stripes.
Get out and splash the cash, Ellis. You’ve allowed previous managers to spend your money unwisely. This time we all know what we’d be getting. And judging by the turnout of South Koreans at Craven Cottage, you’d be assured of a decent run of ticket sales.