Aiden McGeady has “fallen back in love with football” since Simon Grayson liberated him to express himself, according to the new Sunderland boss, writes Stephen Barry.
McGeady smashed in a 25-yard goal (at 1:43 in the below video) for his new club and assisted another in the Black Cats’ 3-1 win away to Norwich City.
Grayson, who McGeady followed from Preston North End to Wearside, considers the Irish winger superb value, especially given he was purchased for £250,000 – 36 times less than Sunderland offered for him five years ago.
“It is a snip when you consider we tried to buy him five years ago for £9million,” said Grayson.
“He is a player that has immense ability. He fell out of love with the game before I took him to Preston last year – I let him express himself.
“His ability is as good as anyone I have worked with and he has fallen back in love with the game.
“He was my first port of call when I took over. I wanted to sign him. It took a few weeks to get done, but £250,000 is not a bad deal!”
The 31-year-old was included in the Republic of Ireland’s provisional squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Serbia, with McGeady in line for a 91st cap if he is called upon by Martin O’Neill.
For now, he’s just glad to carry the form which saw him named Championship Player of the Month last February into the new season.
“For me, I’m just delighted to get off to a good start,” said McGeady.
“Lewis (Grabban) and James (Vaughan, the Sunderland centre-forwards) are perfect for me. For me to get the ball out wide, it’s great to know if I get half a yard with either foot I can put the ball in the box and those two will attack it.
“You saw with the third goal, it was a just a good ball in, the two lads were in there and Grabs got on the end of it.
“So far, the Celtic game aside, it has been promising and it can only get better.
“Vaughany works really hard. If he keeps working hard like that, the goals will come.
“Lewis has obviously started really well and George (Honeyman) has kind of come from nowhere and had a really positive impact. In all aspects, it’s been good.
“There’s more to come.”
McGeady added that he was surprised to get the pass for his goal: “I was expecting Catts (Lee Cattermole) to volley it actually – he’s just played that disguised pass to me.
“I was caught a bit by surprise but just took a touch and caught it sweet.
“I’m comfortable shooting off my left. I scored a few like that last season, and I’m just delighted to get my first goal for Sunderland. The win is the main thing.”