Malcolm Dawson writes….it struck me whilst watching England v Belgium that we have a full team of current and former, soon to be all former, representatives of SAFC taking part in the competition in Russia. How many of them actually merit their places if judged solely on their performances during their time on Wearside? Try as I might I can only manage 1 sub and some players are by necessity in unfamiliar positions. Here they are playing 3 5 2.
1 Jordan Pickford, not long after being called a lemon by the Chelsea U23 coach during a game at Eppleton C.W. ground he is England’s number 1. SAFC success. 8/10
2 Danny Rose impressed while with us and both he and the coaching staff at parent club Spurs credit his time at the SOL as important to his development. 7.5/10
3 Bryan Oviedo did OK in a struggling team but too inconsistent. Showed some useful attacking qualities and some defensive frailties. 6.5/10
4 Ahmed Elmohamady. Was he a full back? Was he a winger? There are those who’ll say he was neither. 5/10
5 Seb Larsson gave good service during his time with us and could on occasion produce a stinging free kick. Was perhaps running out of steam a bit towards the end but never looked like he gave anything less than 100% 7/10
6 Jordan Henderson wasn’t worth the money Liverpool paid for this product of the Wearside academy in my view and took his time to find his feet on Merseyside but that’s not to say he didn’t perform for us while with the club. Finding a few more like him might be crucial if we are to get the funds to improve the situation in which the club finds itself. Better still if we can hang on to them and build a team around them. 7/10
7 Ki Sung-Yeung. I would have been happy for the Korean to be signed permanently but it was back to Swansea where he suffered a relegation one year later than had he stayed. 7/10
8 Wahbi Khazri. He’d score higher if this was at the end of the season where he formed part of the three Ks who Big Sam brought in to engineer another great escape. Since then he has fallen out of favour with subsequent managers and the fans. One of the Neville Brothers (the footballers not the soul and blues band) said they wouldn’t have him in the side because he goes missing. Scored a couple of cracking goals though. 6/10
9 Adnan Januzaj never played for us like he played against England tonight – at least if he did I can’t remember him doing so. One of many disappointing loan signings to play in the red and white stripes I was personally not sorry when he went. 3/10
10 Ole Toivonen is another who showed initial promise then failed to live up to it. Big and supposedly strong, he was probably played out of position by Dick Advocaat but my main memory of him is seeing him excited and leaping around when on the bench as it began to look as if we would avoid the drop. At least he seemed to care but I can’t score him too highly for what he produced for us. 4/10
11 Danny Welbeck came from Manchester United on loan and certainly developed as a young player while at Sunderland, so much so that he soon got into the England side. He has been blighted by injury since moving to Arsenal but was on the bench in Russia against Belgium and came on to lead the line in the second half. 7/10
Sub: – He can play anywhere – Simon Mignolet. We made a good profit on the Belgian keeper. Uncertain to begin with and dodgy under the high ball he proved to be a good shot stopper and closed down breaking forwards in one on one situations well. Definitely improved during his time with us and we got a decent fee for him. 6.5/10
STOP PRESS And with thanks to John Mac and Michael Hammond (see below) I can now stick in Sebastian Coates 4/10 at centre back in place of Elmo and (Michael suggests dropping Oviedo) but I’ll stick N’Diaye 4/10 on the bench.