Sunderland have the chance to secure their place in the Championship next season as they face Wycombe in the play-off final on Saturday at Wembley.
Kristjaan Speakman worked hard last summer in an attempt to build a side capable of competing for the top two positions in the league. He brought in the likes of Alex Pritchard, Corry Evans, Callum Doyle and Dennis Cirkin, among others, but his work did not provide Lee Johnson, and subsequently Alex Neil, with enough quality to go up that way.
What could they have done in the window that may have pushed them further up the table? Well, one player who they missed out on a deal for was English left-back Scott Tanser as they attempted to snap him up before he signed for St Mirren.
The manager of the Premiership side, Jim Goodwin, previously dubbed him “instrumental” and “outstanding” and that is exactly what he has been this season.
In the Scottish top-flight, Tanser played 31 times and averaged a sublime SofaScore rating of 7.09 as he made 2.5 tackles and interceptions per game. He performed to a high standard on a consistent basis as he has shown that he can be a reliable option at left-back.
It is what he offers on the ball that really catches the eye. He ended the campaign with two goals and four assists from left-back, creating eight ‘big chances’ in total and completing an impressive 1.7 key passes per game.
This is something that Cirkin, who joined from Tottenham last summer, has been unable to provide throughout the season. The 20-year-old finished the regular season with zero goals and two assists in 36 games, creating two ‘big chances’ and making 0.7 key passes per game.
Cirkin averaged a SofaScore rating of 6.76 in League One and these statistics suggest that Tanser would have had a bigger impact on the side, both in terms of the level of performances he can put in on a consistent basis and the quality he is able to deliver in the final third.
Therefore, Speakman endured a nightmare as he fumbled a deal for the 27-year-old last summer. He would have been a fantastic addition to the squad and the Black Cats chief has now had to watch on from afar as he enjoyed an impressive season with St Mirren.