Pete Sixsmith is about to vanish beneath a tall pile of exam papers to mark. It’s a wretched job but has to be done and helps towards season ticket purchases for SAFC and Durham County Cricket Club. Before he pulled on his history teaching/examiner’s hat, he took a look at Sunderland retained list (*see in full below) and read between the lines, always advisable since these lists are a formality and rarely tell anything approaching the real story …
In the Good Old Days, clubs would issue their retained lists and supporters would know who was staying and who was going. Contracts were seen as private agreements between the individual and the club.
Occasionally, a manager would drop a bombshell and a popular player would be told that his time was up at Roker Park/St James’/Ayresome and he would be free to look for another club. Or a rival manager would come in and take a player, contract or not, if the board decided to sell him.
That was how we got Brian Clough from Middlesbrough in 1961. He was signed in July for the princely sum of £55,000, an absolute fortune then. He was regarded as a nuisance at Ayresome Park – he always struck me as a typically chippy Teessider – and they couldn’t wait to get him out of the door. He took to Sunderland like a duck to water and worshipped at the altar of Alan Brown.
But I digress. The retained list. Have we issued one? If so, who is on it and who is off it?
Wednesday morning’s Northern Echo was a busy one. There was the aftermath of the Carver/Stone sacking – so much for their job for life; it lasted for a shorter time than the one we gave to Ricky Sbragia.
There was a report on Durham’s excellent win over Somerset and Yorkshire’s tidy one over Middlesex. Darlington had signed another player from Darren Williams’s Whitby Town and there were less interesting pieces on Boro and Pools.
And there was an exclusive by Paul Fraser that gave me food for thought as I scooped up my porridge and slurped my tea. The piece said Wes Brown and Anthony Reveillere were to be offered a year’s extension to their contracts and that they were expected to sign sooner rather than later [in fact, the Sunderland Echo now reports that Monsieur Reveillere’s contract will not be renewed whereas Brown is expected stay for another year; see Sixer’s comment below – Ed].
Fraser concentrated on Brown, saying “Advocaat thinks that he is a valuable and respected member of the squad” and that “his experience is seen as integral to the squad Advocaat wants for next”. The praise for Reveillere was not quite as fulsome, saying only that “negotiations are at an advanced stage”.
However, the Black Cats’ list, using the PL site as a source, suggests that both have been released – which they have, up to a point. Their contracts run until the end of this month, which gives club and player a couple of weeks to sort their futures out for 2015-16. It may be that both are offered and sign a new deal for the year or they may, in Wes’s case, decide that appearing on reality TV is preferable to trying to create a watertight defence at the Stadium of Light.
So technically both have been released yet both could well return if the head coach wishes them to. I assume both Brown and the club expected him to retire this summer, hence no advanced talks regarding a contract extension, while Reveillere was only here on a short term deal.
With a combined age of 70, (a number that M Salut is quickly approaching) [steady on, I’m younger than Mick Jagger and, come to that, Dick Advocaat! – Ed] neither are in the first flush of youth.
When fit, Brown has never shirked his responsibilities and, when he came into the team at the end of the season, was as solid as a rock. Reveillere dropped out when Advocaat arrived after playing well in the middle of the season. He also appears to enjoy being at the club – although I am sure that his salary may have a little bit to do with that.
Looking at the list, there are some interesting names. El-Hadj Ba and Chavrias Mavrias are on the retained list, in what I assume are the final year of their contracts. It would be a surprise if they returned to the North East and another year’s loan at wherever looks likely.
Valentin Roberge is another name that appears. He seems a really nice guy who can play football in a pleasant and thoughtful way – which rules him out of the physical hurly-burly of the Premier League. He spent last year at Reims, playing 11 games and not really setting the Vesle on fire (I had to look that one up. It is described as a fourth level river – so presumably something like the Browney or the Skerne).
Then there are players in the final year of their contracts whose future needs to be settled ASAP. Both Steven Fletcher and Danny Graham fall into that category and I suspect that many Sunderland fans would not be weeping and wailing and renting their garments if both were to leave for pastures anew before August 8.
Adam Johnson is in the same boat, but his circumstances are ever so slightly different.
Once Dick gets in situ at the Stadium, we can hope to see some new players arrive, but with every other club in the league hoping to strengthen, what can we look forward to? I have little idea about some of the names mentioned – defender Kim Young-Gwon, currently playing in China, Joselu of Hannover and Franco di Santo, who has played in the Premier League for Blackburn and Wigan (and who scored the goal that did for Steve Bruce – so not all bad, then) and who has done well at Werder Bremen.
There will be others and it is to be hoped that we have a much stronger squad in August. Hopefully, we will be able to see some of them at Bishop Auckland on July 9 and at Doncaster Rovers 20 days later.
I am now disappearing for three weeks as there are 303 GCSE History papers festering next to my desk. Enjoy June mes amis.
******The retained list as registered with the Premier League:
Agnew Liam John
Ba El Hadji
Bridcutt Liam Robert
Buckley William Edward
Casey Dan Patrick
Cattermole Lee Barry
Defoe Jermain Colin
Fletcher Steven Kenneth
Gomez Garcia-Penche Jordi
Gooch Lynden Jack
Graham Daniel Anthony William
Honeyman George Christopher
Karlsson David Moberg
Larsson Sebastian Bengt Ulf
Lawson Carl (Offer)
O’Shea John Francis
Pantilimon Costel Fane
Pickford Jordan Lee
Pybus Daniel Joseph
Van Aanholt Patrick John Miguel
Watmore Duncan Ian
Wickham Connor Neil Ralph
Blinco Jordan William (Offer Contract)
Hume Denver Jay
Ledger Michael (Offer Contract)
Lowrie David James
McEvoy Dylan James (Extended)
Nelson Andrew George Robert
Purvis Greg Anthony
Robson Joshua Paul
Brown Wesley Michael
Dixon Joel Stephen
McNamee Thomas Gerard