SAFC's "incredible" £13k-p/w star could turn out to be Donald's finest parting gift – opinion
When it comes to Stewart Donald, he hasn’t done an awful lot right since walking into the football club.
Of course, the primary objective has been promotion from League One, but obviously, that hasn’t happened for Sunderland.
Sunderland fans have been on his back for a considerable period of time and must have breathed a huge sigh of relief when they saw that he was on the verge of selling his majority stake.
Juan Sartori and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus have reportedly agreed terms with Donald that will see him relinquish control of the club.
So with that in mind, what better way to celebrate than by assessing what he’s actually done right at the Stadium of Light. Cue the tumbleweed.
As much as supporters will hate to admit it, he did get one thing correct in the summer – signing Bailey Wright on a permanent transfer.
After an injury that saw the Australian quickly ruled out for the season following his loan move from Bristol City in January, the Black Cats gambled.
Again, money was thrown at a signing. This time Donald decided he’d part ways with a salary of £13k-a-week for the centre-back and it has so far been worth every penny.
The colossal defender has been imperious in the backline and has been the ultimate parting gift from Sunderland’s current owner.
If the Mackems do achieve promotion then it’s incredibly likely that Wright will have played a huge part.
So far this term, the 28-year-old has won a mighty 3.9 aerial duels per game, completing over 80% of his passes in the process.
Those are eye-catching numbers, particularly to Sunderland hero Kevin Phillips: “The stats just show what an important player he is. He’s almost to Sunderland what van Dijk is to Liverpool at the moment with those incredible stats,” he told Football Insider.
Wright combines defensive focus and leadership with an element of modern defending in how comfortable he is with the ball at his feet.
It’s no great surprise that Phil Parkinson thinks so highly of the Aussie. Earlier this season, the manager remarked: “Those characters, who are classed as leaders and will influence other people around them on the pitch or in the dressing room and the training ground, are hard to find.”
Parkinson continued: “Bailey is very good at that. He’s everything we want – he typifies how we want to play, and how we want to conduct ourselves on a day-to-day basis. He’s a great signing for us, and we’re enjoying working with him.”
If you looked at the squad that Jack Ross had then you can accuse it of lacking real leaders. Now, however, they have a man with captaincy experience in the Championship.
If ever there was a player that Sunderland needed to recruit it was Wright.
Donald deserves praise for getting a deal over the line, even if his wages are pricey.
The post Sunderland defender Bailey Wright could be Donald’s finest parting gift first appeared on FootballFanCast.com.
Source: Football – Football Fan Cast