McClean break: (1) bitter disappointment as he joins Wigan, or good riddance?

James McClean. By Jake ... disappearing into the lower leagues
James McClean. By Jake … disappearing into the lower leagues

Forget Suarez and Bale. The real transfer buzz is, as it has been all close season, at Sunderland. After the assorted arrivals comes another departure, one that divides Sunderland supporters along the lines suggested in the headline.

Pete Sixsmith
and Monsieur Salut decided to have their say on McClean’s descent into the Championship where he will be trying to help Wigan Athletic bounce back to the Premier in one go.

The timing of Sixer’s piece may depend on when he can tear himself away from Test cricket (stop press: he did and it’s at My own has already appeared at my pages and can be seen in full at

Here are extracts:

There could have been no more fitting end to James McClean’s start-stop career at Sunderland than to have his departure more or less confirmed in a tweet from the man himself. Official word lagged far behind.

“Delighted to announce a signed with wigan!” it read without obvious desire on the Irish winger’s part to gain approval from the Queen’s English Society. When the official announcement finally arrived, Sunderland said McClean had joined the newly relegated Championship side for an undisclosed fee, a phrase that should have no place in football. It was actually in the region of 1.5 million-2 million pounds if reports are to be believed.

… The almost inescapable conclusion to draw from his 20 months as a member of the Sunderland first-team squad is that for most of that period, he made more impact on Twitter than on the field.

McClean seemed a revelation when, having been denied a chance by Steve Bruce to step up from the reserves to improve a bad team, he made a massive impression as a late substitute on Martin O’Neill’s managerial debut at the Stadium of Light … He duly proceeded to worry the defences of other opponents in the purple patch that gave O’Neill the points he needed to avoid relegation, which seemed the likely fate for Bruce’s team after an abysmal start to the season.

Then, as if everyone had studied his style and decided it wasn’t unplayable after all, McClean ceased to be a threat.

… He did manage to cause the wrong kind of excitement in other ways.

I defended him in the row over wearing a shirt adorned with a poppy because I do not find it difficult to understand the political and social realities of his native Derry/Londonderry, which even Northern Ireland natives call Stroke City. For similar reasons, I respected his preference for playing for the Republic of Ireland and not Northern Ireland.

But even I eventually questioned his shoot-from-the-hip belligerence.

By then, his attitude had alienated many Sunderland supporters; the North East is traditionally a working-class region that produces recruits for the armed forces. If McClean has a right to the freedom to speak his mind for which past British servicemen have fought (in theory at least), there is a competing freedom: the right to find his utterances unacceptable.

… It is perhaps asking too much that McClean will never again offer us his controversial view of the world. But with the Sunderland supporters’ reaction ranging from sorrow at unfulfilled promise to a straightforward “good riddance”, his new manager Owen Coyle may wish to bear in mind the important part he must play, too, in ensuring the “new challenge” does not end in tears.

Monsieur Salut, Paris-style, by Matt
Monsieur Salut, Paris-style, by Matt

Join the Salut! Sunderland Facebook group – click anywhere along this line

And follow us on Twitter: @salutsunderland … click along this line

Click anywhere on this sentence for a glance at the home page – and highlights of all the most recent articles …

Jake flags the new feature allowing you to have your say on topic or off
Jake flags the new feature allowing you to have your say on topic or off
Fancy leaving a comment? Not sure what you have to say fits this post? Go to the new feature – – and say it there.

6 thoughts on “McClean break: (1) bitter disappointment as he joins Wigan, or good riddance?”

  1. Hi Colin,

    It has been a long time; I hope life is treating you well!

    Reading through this article brought back the memories of the debate we had on your site regarding Mr. McClean and the difficulties that we within Northern Ireland had faced due to his actions.

    Indeed you provided me with the great courtesy of being able to respond to your article, which was published here

    Within the comments of your first article on him, I actually posted

    ‘I sincerely hope for a great club like Sunderland’s sake that if a top 5 club come calling at some stage, he doesn’t show his true colours again in an attempt to justify a move away’.

    While in hindsight I should have noted ‘top 5 Championship club’, I genuinely hope that he does not start making unfounded accusations or publishing lies about the Sunderland fans moving forward, as we Northern Ireland fans found following his defection to the Republic.


    • To be honest, Andrew, we were – or most of us – relieved to see the back of him. You can put up with a lot if a player actually seems to be any good. After that early, impressive burst, he increasingly looked out of his depth. The tweets etc became tiresome but all the more so because of his shortcomings on the field. I still defend his basic freedoms but also the balancing right not to wish to put up with the way he exercises them.

  2. I thought his first few months (one-footed anarl) were very exciting. He was beating players and getting in great early crosses, and scored a few good goals too. The poppy thing didn’t turn me against him, if I’d had his background I’d probably have done the same. Twitter? Who cares? His second season was VERY disappointing, but made harder by sections of the crowd getting on his back. I have no bad feelings towards him and think he’ll do well in the second division (aka “The Championship”)

  3. Good move us, gets him off the wage bill and off our radar with he’s idiot pronouncements on social media.Gone and soon forgotten .

  4. His departure is, I think, a good outcome for him and for SAFC.
    I think it is clear that he is not PL standard. Too one footed and predictable. I don’t think he would have figured much in PDCs plans.
    From his viewpoint, a chance to start again and prove his critics wrong.
    £i.5m represents a very good bit of business.

    • Not to mention losing his overpaid salary after the renegotiation of his contract following his bright start, from the wage bill, hopefully allowing the signing of a more effective player whilst staying within Short’s permitted budget.

Comments are closed.

Next Post