Rob Hutchison was probably a little harsh with his one-word verdicts on the Lads v Liverpool, or maybe just realistic and angry. Now he turns his fire on a succession of dodgy signings Sunderland have made in the past and picks a team we trust is pure fantasy (again with a spot of harshness along the way)..
And so as another transfer window creaks open and Sky’s yellow ticker (or purple dildo) is set to invade our screens for another 30 odd days, we should inevitably cast our minds back and be thankful for some of the shrewdest purchases the club has made in recent years.
Every one one of them worth their weight in fresh steaming cow pats. Each and every one also guaranteed us a terrific sell-on profit be they ones for the future, established big hitters or plain old dogdirt.
Wearers of the hallowed stripes, if you’ve made the list, I salute you. With such a vast array of talent to choose from is was an almighty task, and you’ve done ever so well to be picked out as true gems above all others . . . . would this XI really have more than 12 points at the halfway point of the season? Course it would.
* Craig Gordon £9m signed from Hearts from Roy Keane.
The highest fee a British club had paid for a goalkeeper at the time, Gordon played 90 odd games for us (£100k a game?) before injuries curtailed his Sunderland career and he ended up seeing his contract out from his bath chair and returning north of the border. The Zat Knight save against Bolton was of course worth the £9m alone, and voted best save in PL history up to 2012. Two years later and he’s Celtic’s number one. Only at Sunderland eh?
* Anton Ferdinand £8m signed from West Ham.
Another big money Keano recruit, Ferdinand never really made much of an impact during his three years at the club featuring in around 90 appearances, the highlights included not being given a squad number by Steve Bruce at the start of a season, and some of the worst defending ever witnessed as we capitulated 3-0 at the Hawthorns. Sold in August 2011 for £1m to QPR.
* George McCartney
£4.5m second time round, signed again from West Ham. Think they must have seen us coming (again), 41 appearances in four years, blighted by injury and personal problems, and again losing a squad number. Whilst there’s a tinge of sympathy here as he came through our ranks and did OK first time around, this second signing was another example of clueless recruitment that left everyone baffled.
* Paolo da Silva Undisclosed fee from Toluca signed by Mrs Doubtfire.
The most capped player in Paraguay’s history, signed by Steve Bruce and his super special secret South American scout. Aye, pass another steak bake pet. Just 24 games later “settlement problems” saw him farmed out to Zaragoza after contributing nothing of note. Again I had a soft spot for him for 10 minutes, primarily helped by a night holed up in a Paraguayan restaurant in central London with a clutch of other Mackems during the World Cup. The press even came out to interview us. Mental. Pinnacle of his Sunderland career was the home defeat in the FA Cup to Notts County in 2011. Moved on for an undisclosed fee.
* Greg Halford
£3m signed from Reading by yes, you guessed it, Roy Keane.
Nicky Hammond, Reading’s football director, was quoted as saying it was “an excellent deal for the club”. He played three times for Reading before we snaffled him up. Eight games, two sendings off and a litany of rumours later, Keano had had enough, but failed to find a single buyer for him, and he ran his contact down and walked away at the end of it. He’s played for nine clubs since he left us. I feel their pain. Fools.
* Emanuele Giaccherini £8m signed from yes, Juventus!
What a signing, an established Italian signing for Sunderland on a long term deal in his prime. The gods have finally shined kindly on us. Or maybe not. Did we turn him into a rubbish player overnight, or was he completely unsuitable to the physical rigours of the Premier League? Gutted it never worked out for wor little Giacchi, but the chance of recouping any money of substance come the day of judgement is probably minimal.
Jeremain Lens £9m signed from Dynamo Kiev in the summer.
Billed as Sess with end product (by who I hear you scream), he signed to play for Dick Advocaat, not for Sunderland. And when Dick left so did Lens’ focus and desire. He’s scored an absolute corker against West Ham, but questionable work rate, attitude, and nous has left him a peripheral player under Allardyce. He’ll be off this window, on loan no doubt, back to Holland. Another decent player we turned into rubbish at our place.
* Jack Rodwell
£10m signed from Manchester City
Sadly we forgot the check the small print on the receipt (sold as seen, no returns, no warranty, no carrier bag). At 20-odd games, he makes Darren Anderton look fit and lively. Always over exerting himself when he does play, you know another lay up for this midfield enforcer (aye honest) is only just around the corner. Head in hands, rocks gently back and forth.
* Adam Johnson £10m signed again from Manchester City
The biggest disappointment of this XI, Johnno has everything in his locker to be a Sunderland legend and take us to new heights. Sadly he really only ever wakes up on Tyne Wear derbies for which he’ll be remembered, but his contribution across his four seasons has been nowhere near sufficient. He’ll no doubt walk away for nothing in 2016. What a waste.
* Tore Andre Flo £8m signed from Rangers.
The new Quinn, we thought. Nah it’s OK. The man was unable to play for 90 minutes, and his fitness was publicly questioned. Thirty-three games, six goals and 12 months later, a free transfer. OMG. Does it get any worse?
* Jozy Altidore £7m, signed from AZ Alkmaar.
Hang onto your hats lads, he’s here!! He huffed and he puffed, he made all the right noises, and none of the right actions. If Jozy scores, we’re on the pitch. No fear of that, don’t worry. A reminder that being prolific in the Dutch league is like thinking you’re half decent on Football Manager, when you’re not, and your mum knows you’re not, and so does your little sister, and the dog. The most incredible thing about the whole Altidore charade is that we traded him for Jermain Defoe and a friendly. Truly incredible.
Subs – always gamechangers eh? Aye, reet.
* Lillian Laslandes £4m signed from Bordeaux by Peter Reid.
I saw him in a preseason friendly in Calais in the summer of 2001 and he looked rubbish then, and nothing changed in the following 13 games. No goals, then a free transfer back to europe for his final countdown, he did so little in football back in France he retired and because a professional Handball Player. FFS.
* Milton Nunez £1.5m signed from Ushaw Moor Welfare.
A man of Mackem legend, allegedly signed on the strength of a video pertaining to be a top flight player in Urugauy when in fact he came from your mate’s pub team. We actually kept our receipt this time and got a partial refund for buying goods not a described after crying very loudly about it. According to Wikipedia today, Tyson also came out of retirement in 2015 to turnout for his boyhood club Blyth Spartans after a prolonged transfer saga with the Toon. Really. I know.
* Matty Piper £3.5m signed from Leicester City
Another unfortunate case of injuries curtailing any promise, Piper played some 20 odd games in four years. Ten operations later and his professional career was over and he’s now in charge of Leicester U15s. His best performance by far in a Sunderland shirt was at Jody Craddock’s testimonial in 2014. He’s fan of the lads on social media and always seems to look out for the Black Cats results, poor demented soul.
* Nicolas Medina £3.5m signed from Argentine Juniors
Again stuff of legend (bless you Reidy), Funky Cold never played a league came for us whereas Julio became that legend and embodies everything that’s great about the region, it’s people and it’s football. Signed and never fancied, and that was that. What could have been . . . .
So there we have it, the thick end of £100m cannily invested in the last couple of decades. it makes your heart swell with pride doesn’t it just. I retain unwavering confidence in our great club that once again this window deliver us a player who can force his way into this unique squad of supposed footballers.
Happy New Year.