And whilst he was able to show consistency throughout a successful league season, he’s demonstrated that he can perform in the big games, starting three appearances in the League One play-offs and providing two assists to help the Black Cats realise their Championship promotion ambition.
The 29-year-old’s performance in the final had chief Sunderland writer Phil Smith waxing lyrical about the former Spurs man in his player ratings, giving Pritchard a rating of nine, making him the joint man of the match with Elliot Embleton also handed a glowing review.
Commenting on Pritchard’s performance, Smith said this as per Sunderland Echo: “Alex Pritchard – 9; Pressed really well and pulled into some excellent areas throughout the first half. Superb work rate and got his reward with the assist for Stewart’s fine second goal. What a moment. 9.”
Operating primarily as a central attacking midfielder in Alex Neil’s alternating systems of 3-4-1-2 and 4-2-3-1, Pritchard – who has scored 43 goals across the course of his career – has managed to rejuvenate his career at the Stadium of Light and now finds himself as a Championship player once more, in a system that tactically fits him well.
One of the biggest difficulties for Sunderland and indeed the largest priority for Neil will be keeping hold of the core members of this squad.
Pritchard, who was dubbed “especially impressive” for his performance on Saturday, is one of those core players, and having garnered the majority of his experience in England’s second-tier, he knows exactly what it takes to survive at that level.
In the prime of his career at 29, he could be a vital piece for Sunderland in the Championship, and a player who consequently saves them millions of investment in the transfer market.