So Salut! Sunderland was told the former SAFC and Republic of Ireland midfielder Andy Reid, speaking exclusively to 888sport, was happy to answer our questions as part of the interview. He had some interesting things to say about enjoying his time at Sunderland, playing for Ireland and observing our current plight.
We’ll move on to that in a moment. But first, these were the questions Monsieur Salut posed:
* Andy, I heard you on radio recently, reacting with obvious emotional interest to bad news from a Forest game. Did you also form an affectionate bond with Sunderland or do they come a long way behind Forest, Spurs and other clubs where you’ve played?
* what memories of your time at SAFC?
* who did you get on with best and who couldn’t you stand, or couldn’t stand you?
* I wanted you at SAFC ever since the time I was living in Paris and saw you in a commendable Republic of Ireland draw against France from which I recall a string a superb corners. When the move finally came, there were good days for sure, but did it come a little late in your career for you to have the impact you’d have liked or were you just unlucky with injuries?
*will/ can we stay up?
* what sort of job do you reckon Martin O’Neill is doing with the Irish team?
* finally, having just bought a new guitar for the first time in decades and found I could still just about play (badly) the old Dylan, Irish trad and blues stuff I learned way back, I was wondering what you were playing/singing at the moment. And who do you listen to most?
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In the event, Andy covered some of the ground, understandably refrained from remembering villains (or those who thought him one) from his time with us and unforgivably ignored the most interesting question of all, obliging me to suggest another YouTube clip, his one showing him singing a Christy Moore song.
Here, otherwise, are his words of wisdom:
Sunderland must not sell their lifeline: “If there have any chance of staying up they have to keep hold of Defoe. He’s a natural-born goalscorer and the only natural goalscorer there and with them being so hard to come by it is vital to keep hold of him. He’s got the firepower to keep them up.”
The January window: “… is make or break [for SAFC]. They need more quality and it will be interesting to see if the owner is willing to put his hand in his pocket because he wants to get rid of the club. They lack creativity and need a couple more creative players. I thought Januzaj would have made more of an impact but he hasn’t so they’re short of someone to chip in with a few goals and create a few more for Defoe. “
No more ‘Big Sam’ saviours. Moyes should stay: “I got the impression a few weeks ago they were heading in the right direction but the result at the weekend will have been a big blow. Moyes will show his managerial qualities now in the weeks ahead trying to lift the players and getting them in the right frame of mind to get some good results.
“Sunderland should stick with David Moyes because the club needs stability now. There are not too many ‘Big Sams’ about and that’s why he got a job so soon after what happened with England. If that had happened to someone else clubs would have stayed away from them for a bit.”
Sunderland fans: “… deserve better but this situation has been going on for a few years now, just staying up at the last minute. So this won’t be a surprise to them. They have magnificent supporters and this is a real tough time for them but it won’t be a surprise where they are.”
Keane at Sunderland: “There were times like any manager when he would lose it – and to be a good manager you have to – but most of the time he was a really calming influence. It was exaggerated how volatile Roy Keane was.
“I probably had more arguments with him – well, not arguments because you daren’t argue with him – for Ireland. I had more bollockings off him when playing with him than when he was a manager. I got on well with him and he was a good manager. I’m sure he’d admit himself that he made mistakes as it was his first job but overall he did a good job at Sunderland.”
Martin O’Neill’s: “… doing a fantastic job and showing what a top class manager he is. I was in a couple of the squads with him before I got injured so I know how fantastic he is with the players. He knows when someone needs an arm around the shoulder or when they deserve a bollocking. He’s a very clever man and knows the right time to do those things.
“I’m not surprised in any way with how they qualified and now they’re getting off to a great start to this group. Obviously being an Irishman I just hope he keeps it up.”
Team spirit was great during my time with Sunderland: “When we were at Sunderland we had a good group of lads. Phil Bardsley, Anton Ferdinand and Lee Cattermole were those I socialised with and had a bit of banter with when I was there. But there were loads of good lads there and like at any club a few bad eggs.
“I don’t know what it’s like now behind the scenes now or what the team spirit is like but it’s difficult for them on the pitch right now and often the two go hand in hand. If everything clicks on the pitch you find everyone getting on off it. “
My favourite memory from Wearside: “… probably my goal against West Ham. We beat them 2-1 and I got the winning goal so that was a brilliant moment.”