This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Rewind’ series, this content strand is where we rewind back to a particular moment at a club, assess the initial reaction from the fans, and then proceed to evaluate and reflect on whether fans were right to react in that way….
Sunderland once again spent last summer preparing for another tilt at achieving promotion back to the Championship, with then manager Phil Parkinson bringing in a host of new faces to freshen up the club’s existing squad.
One of those new arrivals was Irish forward Aiden O’Brien from Championship side Millwall, with the player arriving at the Stadium of Light on a free transfer after leaving the Lions following the expiry of his contract at the New Den.
The experienced frontman arrived with a solid level of Football League pedigree and was largely expected to be one of the main protagonists for the Black Cats this term in the goal scoring stakes.
<br /> Quiz: Did these 15 former Sunderland players leave for a higher or lower fee than they arrived for?
And there was plenty of hope and positivity amongst the Sunderland faithful on social media when the club announced the deal had been completed to bring the 27-year-old to Wearside.
Good signing. Solid player. Welcome to Sunderland AFC @AidenObrien22! 🔴⚪🔴⚪
— JC95 (@Collings1995) July 30, 2020
— Gaz Fisher (@GazJFisher) July 30, 2020
— Charlie Wyke FC🇫🇷 (@jamessafcc) July 30, 2020
Cracking signing good start welcome aiden
— only1kilbane (@only1kilbane) July 30, 2020
Good start, need 5/6 more
— David Hindmarsh (@DavidHindmarsh7) July 30, 2020
However despite the initial good reaction to the signing of the versatile forward, many would admit that things just haven’t gone as well as they would have hoped for the player at Sunderland.
O’Brien has started just 12 league games for his new side and has largely struggled to make an impact for the Black Cats, leading to the player falling down the pecking order under both Parkinson and now Lee Johnson.
Being in and out of the team for much of the campaign certainly hasn’t aided the Irishman’s momentum in the goal scoring stakes either, with the player having only found the net on three occasions at a level of football that he is expected to thrive within.
Having so far failed to live up to the fan’s expectations, O’Brien will be hoping to kick on over the next few months under Johnson as the club continues to revive it’s hopes of attaining promotion this term.