Phil Parkinson will be kicking himself for allowing Jon McLaughlin to leave Sunderland for free after striving to sign the goalkeeper to a new contract this summer.
Sunderland fans were up in arms when it was announced McLaughlin would be leaving the Stadium of Light to join Scottish giants Rangers on a free transfer at the end of his contract this summer, having decided against putting pen to paper on a new deal.
Parkinson had strived to find an agreement with the 33-year-old, after proving himself to be one of the North East outfit’s most consistent performers last season and one whom owner Stewart Donald claimed he would not sell for anything less than £5million just a year ago.
“Jon is someone we would like to keep,” said the Black Cats boss, via quotes by The Northern Echo. “The Chairman and [Head of Football Operations] Richard Hill will be working on that.
“Jon’s recent record puts him up there as one of the best in this division. He is calm and has a lot of experience. At Bradford, he played in a lot of big promotion games. He played in big cup games too, and always handled the pressure well.”
But Sunderland failed to present McLaughlin with appealing terms and as such, they lost a player who had kept 11 clean sheets in 35 games across all competitions in 2019/20, all without any compensation to the benefit of Steven Gerrard’s Rangers.
Gerrard has since called on the two-time Scotland international to start nine of the Gers’ 14 Premiership fixtures, in which the Edinburg-born shot-stopper has kept eight shut-outs, but he has also been benched for October’s crucial Old Firm Derby win over bitter rivals Celtic.
Parkinson, meanwhile, has turned to Lee Burge to become the Black Cats’ new number one, yet he found himself without the 27-year-old for Saturday’s League One defeat at home to MK Dons.
Parkinson was without Burge for Saturday’s League One meeting with MK Dons after the 27-year-old sustained a slight ankle problem, allowing Remi Matthews to step in and make his third-tier debut after being signed from Bolton Wanderers to replace McLaughlin this summer.
But Matthews struggled, with the ‘keeper only able to record two saves – of which just one came from a shot taken inside the Black Cats’ area – along with failing to register any punches, successful runs out or high claims, per SofaScore.
Parkinson will now be hoping for good news on Burge’s ankle during the week, as another slack display from Matthews could see the Sunderland boss come under increasing pressure after allowing the Dons to win their first game on the road in 14-months.
Parkinson’s failure to retain McLaughlin will also come back into focus if Burge is not fit to face Doncaster Rovers but whilst the Black Cats boss will be kicking himself, the shot-stopper will not be regretting his decision to quit Sunderland for Rangers.
McLaughlin was left a mere bystander as the Gers recorded their biggest top-flight victory in 40-years by humbling Hamilton 8-0 earlier this month, on a day Gerrard lauded his defenders for creating an impenetrable line.
“We suffocated Hamilton from start to finish, we stayed on them and never let them move,” the Liverpool icon said, via quotes by The Scottish Sun. “We never took our foot off the gas and you could see the quality throughout the squad.
“It was a very impressive performance, a strong win and another clean sheet. It [the defence] continues to be impregnable and we want to be a tough team to play against.”