The Black Cats had been stuck below the Championship since their relegation in the 2017/18 campaign and finally made their way back via the play-offs.
Lee Johnson failed to succeed in taking the club up to the second division during his time at the Stadium of Light and Alex Neil arrived on Wearside earlier this year to succeed where his predecessor failed.
Of course, he has since left the club to join rivals Stoke City and been replaced at the helm by ex-Blackburn Rovers manager Tony Mowbray.
However, supporters can still appreciate what he did during his time with the Black Cats and one piece of management that he deserves to be praised for is his decision to make Anthony Patterson his number one.
Ron-Thorben Hoffmann was the first-choice between the sticks as he started 23 League One matches under Johnson’s reign in the first-half of last season.
It could have been an easy call for Neil to stick with the on-loan Bayern Munich goalkeeper as the inexperienced Patterson had not played a single professional league match above National League level prior to the 2021/22 campaign.
Sunderland were pushing for promotion and the Scottish manager took a gamble by placing his faith in the youngster, who was valued at £270k by Transfermarkt.
He repaid the head coach by keeping ten clean sheets and averaging a SofaScore rating of 6.88 in 23 League One starts to help the club seal their place in the Championship. This included him receiving a SofaScore rating of 7.5 at Wembley as he kept a shutout in the play-off final against Wycombe.
The stopper retained his position as the number one heading into the current campaign and was tasked with proving that he has the quality to play in the second tier.
Journalist Josh Bunting recently claimed that the gem has made the grade at this level, Tweeting: “Anthony Patterson our best player tonight, he’s coming along really well. Some really nice saves throughout the game but he was commanding of his box most importantly. Was questioned at the start of the season if he could handle the step-up he absolutely can. Solid performance.”
His performances back up that claim as he has averaged a SofaScore rating of 6.91 – keeping three clean sheets – in ten appearances this term. He ranks 8th in the squad in terms of average ratings and is performing to a higher standard than he was in the third tier, which shows that he has taken to the Championship like a duck to water.
At the time of writing (20/09/22), Transfermarkt values him at £720k. This means that his value has rocketed up by 167% in 2022, something that illustrates his meteoric rise to the first team this year.
Therefore, Neil played a blinder with the 22-year-old by bringing him through into the starting XI and allowing him to flourish between the sticks, becoming a vital member of the team.