There aren’t many players who have enjoyed a rollercoaster season like Aiden McGeady.
At the start of the season in September it seemed like the winger’s days with Sunderland were over as he continued his exile from the first team squad under Phil Parkinson.
A fallout last term seemed to spell the end for the 34-year-old who looked set to sit out the rest of his contract before leaving the Stadium Of Light through the back door at the end of his deal.
But since then things have improved drastically.
Upon being appointed as head coach in December Lee Johnson took it upon himself to reintegrate the winger back into his first team squad and make him a key player as the club looked to get their promotion hunt back on track.
Sunderland have certainly done that with McGeady playing a vital role in helping the club into the automatic promotion mix.
But what trends have we seen from Aiden McGeady as he looks to get his Sunderland career back on track?
The biggest pattern in his play has to be the freedom that he’s afforded under Lee Johnson.
While lining up on the left side of Sunderland’s offensive line, McGeady has actually been given a free role in the truest sense of the word as the winger looks to make a big impact on the side’s play.
His trademark move is drifting inside from the left flank which doesn’t just afford McGeady more opportunities to get on the ball, but also outnumbers the opposition in the middle of the park and makes it nearly impossible for opponents to effectively mark him.
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Moving infield also creates space down the left for Sunderland’s left-back – usually Callum McFadzean or Denver Hume – to fly forward on the overlap to add an extra number to the attack.
It’s rare for a club in League One to have a player with such genuine talent and that’s why Lee Johnson has worked tirelessly to ensure that McGeady’s energy is used to hurt opponents in offensive areas.
Defending has never really been his strength and while the 34-year-old does track back to help his defenders, the clear focus is on ensuring that the player is always ready to take the game to the opponent.
He’s certainly been able to do that with McGeady contributing 12 assists to Sunderland’s cause so far this term with his free movement often causing problems around the penalty area and allowing him the space to float passes into the box for Charlie Wyke or Aiden O’Brien to convert.
Add into that his set piece delivery and you begin to see why the Irish star has been such a big player for Sunderland this term.
If the Black Cats are to secure promotion this season then it’s certain that McGeady will have been a central figure in doing that, and regardless of what happens with his contract this summer, Sunderland supporters will no doubt be delighted that they’ve been able to see the best of the player once again.