Sunderland are currently battling for a place in the play-offs in their attempt to get out of League One and back up to the Championship.
Alex Neil’s side are sixth in the table as it stands and have seven games left to make sure that they are in with a shot of returning to the second tier.
It is a grim reality for Black Cats fans as their team scrap for a play-off place in the third tier after many years of competing in the Premier League in recent history.
Will Sunderland win promotion this season?
Some supporters may look back on decisions that the club made over the years and pick out moments which led to where they are now, and one of those could be the departure of John Egan.
The current Sheffield United defender came up through the youth ranks at the Stadium of Light and went out on loan to a number of Football League clubs before being released in 2014, duly signing for Gillingham on a free transfer.
This decision ended up being a huge howler by the Wearside, club as he has since gone on to forge an impressive career, joining the Blades in 2018 after spending two years with Brentford after leaving Gillingham.
He has averaged a SofaScore rating of 6.98 or higher in all four of his Championship campaigns for the Bees and United combined to date. The Republic of Ireland international is an outstanding player in the second tier and his market value represents that, as shown in the graphic below.
Transfermarkt currently value him at £6.3m and he has proven that he can play in the top two divisions in England, whilst Sunderland remain in the third tier for now.
In his debut season in the Premier League for the Blades in 2019/20, he averaged a sublime SofaScore rating of 6.96 across 36 matches. He made 2.8 tackles and interceptions per game and won 61% of his overall duels in the top flight as he flexed his defensive strength.
Although his side ended up being relegated in the following campaign, he still averaged a solid SofaScore rating of 6.75 as he played 31 times. This shows that he is capable of producing quality at the top level and being a reliable defender.
Earlier this season, Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny claimed that Egan could “play in the Champions League” after helping his team to keep a clean sheet against Portugal. His strong statistics in his first top-flight campaign suggest that he has the potential to do so, with his international boss – who sees him in the flesh in matches and in training – believing that the 29-year-old is Champions League quality.
Therefore, the Black Cats had a howler with Egan, as they were unable to tap into his potential and gained nothing from his success as they lost him on a free transfer, and they have had to watch on as he caught the eye in the Premier League and at international level.
AND in other news, Huge boost as Neil handed big Sunderland injury lift which will leave supporters delighted…