Why Sunderland missed a trick in not signing Leeds’ 34-year-old custodian

Andy Lonergan

Why Leeds’ Andy Lonergan Would Have Been A Wonderful Signing For Sunderland

Championship strugglers Sunderland, fresh from another disheartening defeat at Birmingham City, were so close to capturing goalkeeper Andy Lonergan from Leeds United. Leeds boss Thomas Christiansen confirmed the deal on Tuesday and it appeared that Lonergan would sign an 18-month deal at the Stadium of Light, after asking to leave Leeds in order to find regular football elsewhere.

However, the deal hasn’t taken place and the goalkeeper has now assured that he is focused on doing his job at Elland Road, claiming that he’s happy to be a part of such a happy dressing room.

With this in mind, one can only assume that Lonergan would have been given assurances by Chris Coleman that he would come in as the No.1 at Sunderland, which would have demotivated Robbin Ruiter and especially Jason Steele.

The 34-year-old Lonergan only signed on at Elland Road in the summer on a two-year deal from Wolverhampton Wanderers but has largely played second fiddle to Felix Wiedwald at Leeds, culminating in the stopper playing just nine times this season.

Lonergan only managed the majority of those appearances after Wiedwald had a slight wobble near the beginning of the season and the boss succumbed to pressure to replace Wiedwald, which he did, albeit temporarily.

Sunderland remain in a bad position in the Championship, sitting one point off bottom place and fighting relegation, and Coleman seems to have identified Lonergan as someone who could make a big contribution to the cause and it’s easy to see why.

Leeds are no mugs in this division and so the fact that they even brought Lonergan in as recently as the summer is a testament to his abilities. Despite a deal being already in place at Sunderland, Lonergan was on the bench on Tuesday night for Leeds’ 0-0 draw at Hull City.

The main element that Lonergan would have brought to the party at Sunderland is his experience. The ‘keeper has played over 300 league games in his career for Wycombe Wanderers, Preston North End, Swindon Town, Leeds United, Bolton Wanderers and Wolverhampton Wanderers and has usually been a popular figure at those clubs too.

In terms of his quality too, there is little doubt. Lonergan has played all but three of his league games in the Championship. It’s true that he has never been in the Premier League but he has never had a permanent move to a level lower than this either, so Sunderland knew that they were getting a goalkeeper of the required level for the crucial few months of the season.

Players like Lonergan could be the difference between relegation and survival in this division, so he would have been a crucial signing for Sunderland.

Written by Gary Christie

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