After the impressive introduction of a young Duncan Watmore in last week’s F.A. Cup with Budweiser at home to Carlisle, talk immediately began to filter through of how he should now be included in the first team on a regular basis. Of course, that was inevitable, after the former Altrincham forward put in a fantastic cameo performance, which nearly included his first senior goal and injected some much needed energy into a placid home crowd.
Looking on social media and forums, fans were raving about him. They loved how direct his play was, his ability to run at players with pace – something they’ve not seen from a player in years, decades even. What was even better was the fact he was totally unknown to some fans, it was brilliant to read.
It’s a good thing of course because they don’t know what to expect, unlike players such as Adam Johnson, Steven Fletcher or Wes Brown, who have been around the block in England for a few years and have built a reputation via their appearances and experience in the league as well as featuring on an international level.
I did my fair bit of research on Watmore when we first announced we would be signing him. I watched the odd video or two of him playing and I think he’ll be a cracking player in a few years – if he can avoid injuries and receives the correct guidance, which under Kevin Ball he most certainly will. But fans need to be careful what they wish for with the 19-year-old.
By that, I mean if he starts games from now that some have asked for, then it could hamper his development, look at Raheem Sterling at Liverpool last season or James McClean under Martin O’Neill for example. Play too much and he could burn out and form could disappear, along with confidence. We’ve seen what he can do and how well he can do it, even if it was against the heavy legs of a League One club.
He’s raw, Gus has pointed that out already, but he’s hungry and comes across such a well-mannered kid with a level head, you don’t see that a lot these days - Jordan Henderson was the same during his time here and now at Liverpool.
What I’m trying to get across is pretty simple. Let’s not put all hopes and ambitions into Duncan Watmore after one brief appearance, not just yet anyway. Let’s learn from mistakes when McClean first popped up, unplayable for a few games and then he was worked out and fizzled out, look where he is now.
I’d hate to sound pessimistic, I really do, but I’d be slightly agitated and feel for Watmore if he were to be included then have fans turn on him if he puts in an average performance, I’ve seen that happen to many a player since following the club, the saying “if you’re old enough, you’re good enough”, it doesn’t apply here.
The talent we witnessed last week was evident and you can see that, given time, there are fundamentals there for a young, quality English forward to be seen. Like I’ve said, he needs to be nurtured and may have to be loaned out to gain minutes, only then can we can have our say.
The team is doing fantastic under Gus Poyet’s reign, it feels like a car in cruise control right now. We’ve seen the evidence from yesterday’s 4-1 demolition of Fulham and the sweet victory in the first leg of the semi-final of the League Cup against Manchester United.
Maybe in a few years, we’ll be talking about Duncan Watmore, maybe in a few years he might be leading the forward line for Sunderland, let’s just wait and see eh?