While most 16-years-olds are dreading their GSCE results Sunderland youngster Bali Mumba was lacing up his boots as he prepared to make his senior debut for the Black Cats.
A player that has come through the academy at Sunderland, Mumba had a strong pre-season and caught the eye of new boss, Jack Ross. The talented defensive midfielder, played the full 90 minutes as the club beat Charlton 2-1 and then followed that up with 54 minutes in Sunderland’s 1-1 draw.
As expected from a player so young, Ross has shielded the youngster and has kept him on the bench in their last two league fixtures. However, at such a young age, Mumba is showing incredible maturity and it’s easy to forget that he’s only 16.
Although the club brought in Max Power, Luke O’Nien and Dylan McGeouch to bolster the midfield, with Lee Cattermole embarking on the backend of his career, Mumba could well have a bright future at the club.
At only 16, Mumba has still plenty of time develop and needs to be given it by Jack Ross. He needs to be given enough game time to progress and improve but not so much as to burn him out too early on a la Jack Wilshere. Moreover, with Power, O’Nien, McGeouch and Cattermole around him, he doesn’t have to play every game straight away.
A skilled player with the ball at his feet, Mumba still has to work on the defensive side of his game. With more games, that will come and it should be expected of a player so young.
His greatest strength is getting the ball forward and with Charlie Wyke coming into the side they may come in handy as the season progresses.
With Sunderland in League One, Mumba has the ideal platform to develop his game. The Black Cats remain unbeaten in the league and are one of the favourites to get promoted back into the Championship next season. Playing in such a tough league at such a young age is only going to help his game massively and is going to prepare him well for the Championship.
Like all young player, the fans and the club need to be patient with the midfielder. He has the ideal scenario to learn his game and develop and just needs to be given the faith by the manager and the fans.