The crucial Sunderland transfer decision that saved the club huge fees

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The departures of Thorben Hoffmann and Lee Burge meant Anthony Patterson was the club’s only senior option between the sticks.

While there was talk of Sunderland trying to sign a more experienced goalkeeper, the club put their faith in Patterson while offering him a new long-term contract until the summer of 2026.

Anthony Patterson scores a shot over the bar during Sunderland’s Championship game against Preston. Photo by FRANK REID

So far, it’s a move that has paid off.

Alex Bass was signed for a small fee from Portsmouth and acted as Patterson’s substitute for the first 20 league games of the 2021/22 campaign.

If Sunderland had been looking to sign another first-choice keeper over the summer, it’s likely a move would have required at least a six-figure transfer fee and more salary money.

Still, with nearly half of the season gone, Patterson has so far vindicated the club’s faith in him, while showing improvements in his game.

According to Wyscout, the Sunderland stopper is ranked fifth in the Championship when it comes to goals prevented by goalkeepers this season.

Patterson has also shown excellent reflexes and is ranked second (behind Burnley’s Arijanet Muric) in shots saved from close range.

Clearly, there are still areas where Patterson can improve, although his confidence when coming for crosses has improved noticeably since a tough game at Wycombe in January.

According to fbref, Patterson has a total shot/save percentage of 68.1%, which means he is ranked 13th in the league for goalies who have played ten or more games this season.

This figure obviously depends on the quality of the chances that the teams create. Significantly for Patterson, however, goals against Sunderland’s expected figure (via Wyscout) of 27.12 is lower than the 23 goals they actually conceded.

This suggests that Patterson is overperforming when factoring in the chances opponents create.

While Sunderland seemed to be running out of options in some areas of the pitch, their faith in Patterson looks like a laudable decision, although there will be tougher tests ahead.

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