It hasn't been the greatest of months for Sunderland, however it's time for us to award a Player Of The Month. Taking in the games from West Ham at home through Arsenal just gone, the results show it's Steven Fletcher.
After every game we dish out some player ratings and aside from that being a nice little feature, we also use those ratings to decide who our Player Of The Month is.
The scores are added up and divided over the amount of games that player played during the selected time period. It's far from foolproof, but it's invariably right and provides us a better way of deciding than simply picking someone at random.
This month it's not much of a competition as scores across the board are in the main down on last month, but Steven Fletcher has emerged victorious, pipping John O'Shea on the Season Total tie-breaker.
Fletcher enjoyed a reasonable month where he performed admirably against West Ham United and followed that up with a great double and performance at Wigan Athletic before leveling off a little bit in his final three outings of the month against Swansea, Reading and Arsenal.
Time to see what the rest of the Roker Report team make of Fletcher's month before we give you the full table on how every player did.
Michael Graham: With just two wins in six and cup humiliation, it hasn't been the most enjoyable month. It is nice to see Steven Fletcher finally pick up one of our coveted Player of the Month gongs. I was certainly surprised to find out this is his first.
Since his summer transfer saga, Fletcher has provided all the goals we hoped he would as well as proven himself to be a much finer footballer than most of us realised. The fact that no one even mentions his fee any more is testament to the quality he has shown. In short - he has looked every inch a £12m player.
Chris Weatherspoon: Despite being on a bit of a hiding to nothing in recent weeks, with very little support coming his way from midfield, Fletcher probably deserves the award this month on the basis of his performance at Wigan alone. His first goal was an example of rapid reactions; his second was almost painful (to The Latics) in just how emphatic it was. Fletcher has proven to be worth every penny of that £12m we shelled out back in August, and has often single-handedly dragged Sunderland to three points this season. Let us hope the arrival of Danny Graham only pushes Fletcher on to further highs in red and white.
Dan Williams: "What a waste of money" - they said. "£12m, are you kidding?" They said. Thankfully for us, Mr Fletcher continues to make his critics and doubters look a little bit silly. Far more Kevin Phillips than Kevin Kyle, the big Scot has once again shown how important he is to the team, and with Danny Graham coming in, how important he will continue to be this season. We've had a lot of frontmen recently that threatened to become real fan favourites before throwing it all away. Somehow, I just can't see Fletcher doing the same thing.
David Boyle: The best thing to come out of Scotland since post-rock band Mogwai. Steven Fletcher has simply become a true fan favourite with performances full of grit, determination and oozing class which many refused to believe he had in his locker. Fletch deserves the award this month if only for his showing at Wigan a couple of weeks back, chipping in with a fantastic brace which helped the lads on their way to a hard-fought point in front of yet another packed away end of which I was delighted to be a part of.
Karl Jones: It’s been a long time coming, but finally, Steven Fletcher’s promising first term on Wearside has seen him pick up our much-coveted trophy. I jest, but the Scotsman’s goals this season have been valuable – more so away from home where Fletcher has scored half of our goals (7 of 14) – to the extent that the sniggering and point-scoring over how much Sunderland was willing to pay to sign him disappeared rapidly.
His two goals this month against Wigan Athletic convey what type of striker we have at the club – someone who, when given service, can kill teams off without even batting an eyelid.
Craig Clark: Fletcher only managed two goals in January, both of them superb strikes that helped Sunderland to a vital three points away at Wigan. With that relatively modest return in mind, it is testament to his quality as a player and not just a goalscorer that sees him pick up the player of the month this time around. Even when the Scottish international isn't scoring, he's working hard and looking to bring others into play. Those two finishes at Wigan simply serve as a timely reminder of just how important he is and the quality he possesses.
Luke Bowley: It hasn't been a vintage month for the Black Cats, and it was always likely to be one outstanding performance that won this month's award, but by God did Steven Fletcher produce that performance against Wigan. His first goal showed the kind of quick instincts you want to see from a centre forward, and his second goal was simply delicious. That lovely Van Perise-esque finish will rank as many fans favourite goal of the season no doubt.
Outside of that game, while he hasn't scored, his centre-forward play has still been very good, showing how adept he is at holding the ball and bringing others into play. He was unfortunate not to score against Arsenal, and but for a wonderful Szczesny save would've added an other goal to his tally. Perhaps the only surprising thing is that this is the first time Fletcher has won this award this season, when you consider just what a tremendous impact he's had
12/01/13 To 11/02/13
Scores generally across the board are down which is quite disappointing. However the positive aspect of that is things can only get better really. It's hard to argue against Fletcher too much given his season so far, he's probably earned at least one award despite this being his first of the season on our site.