Apart from beating Newcastle for the sixth time in a row, there has been very little positive to write about Sunderland. One positive so far this season however, has been the introduction of 21-year-old Duncan Watmore.
The winger has been a breathe of fresh air in a very poor Sunderland side and it has been nice to see the youngster get his chance. He proved what a key player he could be on his Premier League debut vs Norwich. The youngster came on late in the game and scored a consolation goal, albeit not the best struck volley in the world, in the 3-1 defeat.
On top of his goal, Watmore also looked more up for it than anyone else on the pitch. The youngster has bags of energy and will run around all game, chasing balls down and taking on defenders. Ten days later, Watmore got his second goal for Sunderland in a 6-3 win over Exeter City.
After impressing Big Sam as a sub in the 6-2 defeat to Everton, Watmore found himself in the starting XI against Southampton where, again, he impressed. In the first 20 minutes of the game, the Manchester-born attacker did all he could to get forward and create chances, but once Southampton began to dominate possession, he didn’t get a chance to prove further what he is capable of.
As well as impressing in red and white, Watmore has been impressing in the England Under-21 camp. In fact, Watmore has mustered up a lot of interest from clubs after his performance in the young Three Lions’ match vs Switzerland, in which the winger came off the bench at 1-0 down with 15 minutes to play and won a penalty, scored a goal and provided an assist as England went on to win 3-1. The Black Cat was also awarded man of the match for his performance.
The tricky wide man has also expressed his hopes of signing a new deal at Sunderland and, in my opinion; the club must do what they can to keep the youngster at the Stadium of Light. It would be awful if we let such a promising talent slip away. He is hard-working, not afraid to get at defenders and offers Sunderland something different, which is why he is admired by the majority of the supporters.
The only worry I have is that we may be putting too much pressure of Watmore. As much as I’m sure he’ll relish the opportunity and the challenge, it was clear to see against Southampton that some of the players expected too much from him. Almost every attack we had, when the ball wasn’t aimlessly lumped to Steven Fletcher, was through Watmore. You can’t expect an inexperienced youngster to provide every time he gets the ball, a bit of help from other players would do wonders too.
I also hope we don’t coach Watmore’s attacking philosophy and fearless attitude out of him like we did to James McClean. When the now West Brom player burst on the scene at Sunderland, he was a direct, attack-minded player, but after a few months we appeared to coach that out of him.
Watmore could achieve great things at Sunderland and he should look at the success of Jordan Henderson who made his way through the academy and is now Liverpool captain as inspiration. We have to give him a new contract as he is one of the few impressive players we have and, if we do get relegated, he could be a key player in the Championship too.