Now, he is part of a solid Sunderland defence, one that kept five clean-sheets in their last eight Premier League games.
It may have been another one of those seasons for Sunderland, they started off poorly, and then fought off relegation for a fourth consecutive year. But this time, it feels difference. There’s a feeling that Sam Allardyce could really implement something special at the club.
Not only was Allardyce’s transfer window, which he hailed as his best ever, the turning point of the club’s season, but also, the way he mentored players that were already at the club.
PVA endured a tough start to his Sunderland career
Under Gus Poyet and Dick Advocaat, Patrick van Aanholt was never a bad footballer, but a poor defender. He was great on the wing, and got forward really well. Unfortunately for the Dutchman, he was often caught way out of position, and the big gaping hole he’d left in the left side of defence, was often exposed.
He began to cost his team dearly and Sunderland fans weren’t happy. It had been a while since they had a good quality left-back of their own. Of course Danny Rose and Marcos Alonso had successful loan spells at the club, but were never going to be permanent.
Van Aanholt had the chance to fill that void but struggled to do so, immensely. Though it may be unfair to relate his time at the Wearsiders wholly back to one game, the club’s 8-0 thrashing away to Southampton, highlighed his weaknesses. It’s perhaps fair to use the past tense of highlights, as it’s arguable that those weaknesses are no longer visible.
Now the complete full-back?
As well as moving forward well and helping the Black Cats out in the goal department, PVA seems to have turned into a competent defender. The 25-year-old is everything Allardyce could want in attacking full-back
But the left-back has a lot to thank Big Sam for, the Sunderland boss undoubtedly turned his career on Wearside around. In his day, Allardyce was a great defender himself, and maybe he’s taken his experience and instilled it into PVA.
He has gone from a scape goat to a fan favourite, and a lot of that is down to Allardyce’s appointment. The transformation is good news for Sunderland fans, as it is proof that they’ve got a great man manager on their hands.
Sunderland can really kick on under Big Sam, as they are a perfect match in their own right.