The good, the bad and the ugly – Sunderland’s foreign bodies (part 3 – the ugly)

Jake experiments with colour
Jake experiments with colour

With the summer influx of foreign players into the club, it is easy to assume that we have exciting times ahead, watching a team full of talent from all corners of the globe. Deputy Editor Malcolm Dawson has seen it all before, albeit not in such numbers. He recalls some of the overseas imports from Black Cats’ history, some good, some not so good and some bizarre. Here is the final part – subtitled The Ugly  in which he highlights a series of mistakes, misdemeanours or anything else that came to mind.

Having already selected two teams of overseas nationals who have been on the books of Sunderland AFC there remains a whole host of others who deserve a mention. So here is my third XI, the criteria for selection being whatever took my fancy.

THE UGLY

There are plenty of candidates for the place between the sticks, Martin Fulop, Jurgen Macho and Lionel Perez to name but three, but there was only one player in my mind to fill the goalkeeping jersey – Mart Poom.

Poom’s physical appearance would have made him a candidate for a Bond villain’s henchman, but the reason he makes my side is for his last minute headed equaliser at Pride Park, against a side for whom he was a cult hero before joining SAFC and his embarrassed non celebration. Mint.

You can see it on You Tube by clicking here.

Jake announces his new partnership
Jake announces his new partnership

In defence the obvious first pick is Marcos Angeleri who only played three times for Sunderland. He failed to impress me on his full debut against Notts County in the F.A. Cup, although to be fair the whole side never got up to speed, losing 2-1. Apart from five minutes on New Years Day 2011, that was the only time I saw him in a Sunderland shirt. He spent most of his contract back in South America having his injuries seen to. Accusations of racism against Steve Bruce earns him a place in the “Ugly Squad”. He accused the manager of not picking him because of his nationality, a charge Bruce of course denied. Mind you he was happy to use a similar if slightly diluted argument himself after being sacked, citing his Geordie roots as the reason fans turned against him leading to his own dismissal.

Next I’ve gone for Thomas Helmer who should have been a great signing. An established international and World Cup winner, Helmer was a free transfer who commanded a big salary. Booked on his debut against Leeds in the opening game of the 1999 season, he made his only home appearance when he replaced Steve Bould in the next game against Arsenal. And that was it – high earner, no reward is enough to get him into this side.

Partnering Helmer at the back is 2003 loan signing Talal El Kakouri. The Moroccan managed 8 starts and 2 yellow cards in his time at the club and featured in 9 defeats, including the 0-1 FA Cup loss to Watford, when he came off the bench to replace Julio Arca. A few years later, playing for Charlton, he was booked for “simulation” against Aston Villa and when he went down like the proverbial sack of spuds against Reading, their manager Steve Coppell accused him of cheating, though he had been headbutted.

The left back spot goes to Jan Eriksson.  Eriksson made but a single appearance in 1996 and not only did he get booked but it was his deflection which sent Savo Milosovec’s shot past a hapless Lionel Perez in a 1-0 defeat at Villa Park.

And so to midfield. Although born in London, I’ve stretched the rules a bit so I can include Jamaican international Jamie Lawrence who managed 4 games with The Lads. Picked up by Terry Butcher, Lawrence had served two years of a four stretch for armed robbery when Butcher spotted him playing for Cowes Sports on the Isle of Wight, who themselves had seen him playing for the Parkhurst Prison XI. Currently still playing for Tooting and Mitcham of the Isthmian League Lawrence is a winger going straight. Is that what we really want to see?

Claudio Marangoni was our first significant overseas signing. An Argentinean international who never settled on Wearside after signing in 1979, his contract was terminated the following season. Sound familiar? However Marangoni did manage to score three times in his 21 appearances.

Jalkes washes brightest
Jake washes brightest

Arnau Riera started just once for Sunderland. Having made his debut as a substitute against Southend United in 2006, he made the starting line up for the next game, a League Cup tie against Bury where he managed to get himself sent off after only 4 minutes. Loaned out to Southend and Falkirk his entire career for the Black Cats lasted just thirty nine minutes.

I can’t leave out El Hadji Diouf!  Signed from Bolton for £2.63 million, manager Roy Keane said “we are happy to have a player that the opposition love to hate.”  Diouf has been involved in a number of unsavoury incidents throughout his career and his time at Sunderland came to an end when Ricky Sbragia sold him to Blackburn Rovers, just three days after he allegedly threatened to have Anton Ferdinand “done over.”

 

The attacking “threat” (El Hadji Diouf notwithstanding) comes from Asamoah Gyan and Milton Nunez. Here are two contrasting characters.

Gyan earns his place for the acrimonious way in which he left the club. According to Steve Bruce the £13 million striker had pledged his commitment to the team days before making it clear he wanted to move for the big money available in the Middle East. Gyan had proved to be a useful goalscorer in his first season at Sunderland but to those of us in the stands it seemed obvious that his performances were substandard at the beginning of the following campaign. He got his wish and we got Nicklas Bendtner.

Finally Milton “Tyson” Nunez. Surely the smallest ever player to represent The Black Cats, listed in “All The Lads” as being 5’ 5” but I am convinced he was even smaller. The apocryphal story is that Peter Reid signed him in error, thinking he was a different Nunez altogether from the one he had in mind. Whatever the truth it ranks alongside Graeme Souness signing George Weah’s cousin as a bad piece of business. He only played 15 minutes at the Stadium of Light and 30 at Luton in the Worthington Cup yet I remember him vividly and could have sworn he played more.

Unlike my other two teams this one has a substitute and there can only be one candidate. Thomas Hauser signed in 1988, scored 11 goals in 67 appearances but as he was seen on the bench so many times our German sub earned the nickname “U Boat”.

So there you have it, my Good, Bad and Ugly teams of imports. No place for injury prone John Mensah, the cultured Eric Roy or the self proclaimed “Greatest Footballer in the World” Nicklas Bendtner whose pizza parlour escapades and nights out with Lee Cattermole made him a contender for the “Ugly Squad”. No place either for Patrick Mboma , Sulley Muntari, Benjani, Louis Saha, Dwight Yorke, Lorik Cana, David Bellion, Tom Peeters, Rada Prica, Tobias Hysen, Anthony Le Tallec, Cristian Riveros and others I’ve doubtless forgotten.

The summer activity has me looking forward to the new season with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Let’s just hope the new boys in the freshened up squad adapt quickly to the English game and produce some entertaining football for us. Who knows they may even bring out the best in the players still at the club who so disappointed us last year. Fingers crossed.

You can read Part One – The Good here

And Part Two – The Bad here



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 – https://safc.blog/2013/07/salut-sunderland-the-way-it-is/ – and say it there.

The good, the bad and the ugly – Sunderland’s foreign bodies (part two the bad)

Jake experiments with colour
Jake experiments with colour

With the summer influx of foreign players into the club, it is easy to assume that we have exciting times ahead, watching a team full of talent from all corners of the globe. Deputy Editor Malcolm Dawson has seen it all before, albeit not in such numbers. He recalls some of the overseas imports from Black Cats’ history, some good, some not so good and some bizarre. Here is Part Two in which he recalls some of our less influential signings.

You can read Part One here

Choosing my best XI wasn’t so difficult. True I considered, then left out players like Emerson Thome, Carlos Edwards, Lorik Cana and Djibril Cissé but it didn’t cause me too many headaches. Selecting the bad and the ugly took a little longer. Originally, in part two, I was going to highlight those signings who barely mustered a handful of appearances between them, but then thought I’d stick to those who were regular selections but simply no good. In the end I’ve gone for a mix. In the third and final part of the trilogy, the ugly will be a look back at some of the players whose time at the club ended in acrimony or who provided other unforgettable moments. So here we go with:

THE BAD

As Kelvin Davis was a home nations’ player there’s really only one candidate for the keeper’s jersey, and that is Edwin Zoetebier. Eduard “Edwin” Andreas Dominicas Hendrikus Jozeph Zoetebier, to give him his full name only played twice for Sunderland in his time at the club, in the Carling Cup ties at Bury and Middlesbrough. He never seriously challenged Lionel Perez for a starting spot, but he did get a UEFA Cup Winners’ medal when he started for Feyenoord against Borussia Dortmund.

As we all know the full back position has been problematical for our team since the pairings of Chris Makin and Mickey Gray/Julio Arca. A succession of loan players such as Justin Hoyte, Alan Hutton, Patrice Carteron, Nedum Onuoha and of course Danny Rose have supplemented squad members such as Kieran Richardson, Seb Larsson, Jack Colback and Craig Gardner playing out of position. The centre of defence has also seen a number of supposedly quality signings some good, some less so, John Mensah, Baki Mercimek, Kim Heiselberg and Jack Pelter, being names which not so readily spring to mind.

Jake announces his new partnership
Jake announces his new partnership

But eventually my chosen back four is made up of Bernt Haas, Paulo da Silva, Stilios Kyrgiakos and Pascal Chimbonda.

If I remember correctly, my first sight of the Viennese born Swiss international “Burnt Arse”, was in a pre-season friendly at the Hawthorns. He impressed me that day but not so much afterwards. He managed 21 appearances in his first season before disappearing on loan to FC Basel.

Paraguayan Paulo Da Silva should not be confused with the Canadian politician of the same name. Mind you if you’ve seen the South American in a Sunderland shirt you’d be forgiven for not being able to tell them apart. One of Steve Bruce’s South Americans who never settled in the North East I did actually see Da Silva play some great games in red and white stripes – but they were on TV and the stripes were those of his national side. He had a couple of decent games for Sunderland but failed to establish himself and appeared increasingly shaky when he was selected. His last appearance was in the FA Cup home defeat to Notts County, which was also the game in which another South American made his full debut. Guess who?

Pony tailed, ex Liverpool, loanee Kyrgiakos came at the same time as Wayne Bridge the first two of several Martin O’Neill temporary signings who did little to strengthen the club and he only made a few appearances. The kindest thing I can say about the big Greek defender is that he provided some cover for the injury prone Matt Kilgallon and Michael Turner.

Frenchman Chimbonda came from Spurs and six months later made the return trip when Ricky Sbragia did some good business recouping the fee that Sunderland had paid in the first place. Disappointing really that a reworking of the Automatics’ song “Who’s that coming down the wing…..Pascal Chimbonda, Pascal Chimbonda” never really caught on. It would have made his time with us more memorable. Latest news is that he is playing for Evo Stick South side Market Drayton.

My first choice in midfield is Danish wonder kid Carsten Fredgaard. I actually saw him score twice at Walsall’s Bescott Stadium but apart from that “Chocolate Fireguard” only made two other appearances for Sunderland. His only league outing came as a substitute in a 0-4 reversal at Chelsea when he replaced the legend that is Kevin Ball. Still at least on the back of the club’s interest in all things Danish at that time my sister and I had an enjoyable trip to the friendly matches at Odense and Vejle.

Next up is Christian Bassila. Another disappointing signing. It has to be said that Bassila struggled with injuries whilst at Sunderland but when he played he hardly set the world on fire. He had a clause in his contract which allowed him to be transferred for free, a clause he invoked after the infamous 15 point season, his departure resulting in much weeping and wailing – but only in Greece to where he was bound.

I can’t leave out Nicolas Medina. Costing the club over £3.5 million he never played a league match and only once made the first XI, starting an FA Cup tie against Bolton, a game which he didn’t finish, being substituted by George McCartney in the closing minutes. I know I was at that game but I don’t remember Medina which says it all I think.

Jalkes washes brightest
Jake washes brightest

My fourth and final midfield “sensation” is Teemu Tainio, the only Finnish player so far to play for The Lads. Tainio was another ex Tottenham player who had had some success at White Hart Lane but he never cut the mustard at the Stadium of Light and was sent on loan to Birmingham City after a mere 21 appearances. His contract was cancelled by mutual consent in 2010 and after only two games in the Eredivisie for Ajax he went Stateside and then back to Finland.

One player stood head and shoulders above the rest when choosing  one half of my all time worst import forward line. At this point I will confess that at the time he signed, I expected great things from him but the best I can say about Torre Andre Flo is that at least he was consistent. Problem was he was consistently bad. To be considered worse than Nicklas Bendtner says it all.

Partnering Flo is Lillian Laslandes. Signed by Peter Reid I thought the Frenchman had skill, but it seems as if our then manager wanted him to play the Niall Quinn role, a task to which he was patently unsuited. He never scored in his twelve league outings, his solitary goal coming against Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup. Signed for £3.5 million and left on a free.

So that’s my second selection. There are some names many of you may have expected to see on the list which aren’t included. Please feel free to comment and make suggestions, but bear in mind I still have to produce my “Ugly XI” which will relate not to physical appearance but to anything that I want it to!



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 – https://safc.blog/2013/07/salut-sunderland-the-way-it-is/ – and say it there.

The good, the bad and the ugly – Sunderland’s foreign bodies (part one the good)

Jake experiments with colour
Jake experiments with colour

With the summer influx of foreign players into the club, it is easy to assume that we have exciting times ahead, watching a team full of talent from all corners of the globe. Deputy Editor Malcolm Dawson has seen it all before, albeit not in such numbers. He recalls some of the overseas imports from Black Cats’ history, some good, some not so good and some bizarre.
 
I was too young to ever see South African Don Kichenbrand in red and white. The Chilean Robledo brothers and the ex German POW the late Bert Trautmann, were names I only knew from my brother’s old football annuals. In fact there were hardly any players from outside the British Isles playing in English football when I was growing up. John Charles, Jimmy Greaves and Dennis Law had all plied their trade in Italy in the 60s but the only overseas players in my own country that I was aware of were:  Albert Johanneson at Leeds and the Dane Preben “Benny” Arentoft  who played up the road at St James’ Park, having spent an inordinate amount of time at Morton in the Scottish league.

In those pre Common Market days there was I believe legislation prohibiting the employment of foreign players who did not meet stringent criteria. It wasn’t until the 1978 World Cup and the subsequent signing of the Argentinean World Cup Winners, Ricky Villa and Ozzie Ardiles by Spurs that the gates finally opened.

Theoretically the forthcoming season could see a Sunderland side containing no players from the Home Countries or the Republic of Ireland.  This got me thinking of some of our previous overseas signings, who played in red and white with varying degrees of success. Feel free to add to the list. In part one, I choose my best starting XI with the bad and the bizarre to follow.

THE GOOD

In goal I have to choose between:

Thomas Sorenson who succeeded cult hero Lionel Perez between the sticks and was part of the exciting Peter Reid side which threatened to break into the top tier of Premier League teams and Simon Mignolet  who we saw develop from a hesitant young keeper, too keen to punch and too reticent to dominate the box, into one of the best in the League. Without his crucial saves we would have gone down last season. A shame he had to go but his sale to Liverpool has allowed the new management team the resources to develop the whole squad.

In the end I’ll plump for Sorensen, purely because he played almost twice as many games for The Lads.

The fullback spots go to:

The Pole, Dariuz Kubiki who having made 124 consecutive starts for the club was inexplicably dropped, just one short of George Mulhall’s record, to make way for Gareth Hall!  Julio Arca who like Mickey Gray,  was tireless in midfield and a dependable attacking full back gets my vote for the left back berth.

In the centre of defence I have plumped for Joachim Bjorkland and Stanislav Varga. Swedish international Bjorkland always looked calm and cultured, although his presence couldn’t prevent the team suffering relegation in 2003. He was however part of the side which reached the FA Cup semi final the following year.

Varga earns his place purely on the quality of his debut performance against Arsenal at the Stadium of Light. Four days later he suffered an injury at Maine Road and although he was in and out of the side during the 2000/01 season he was allowed to go out on loan to West Brom, before being released. He had a second spell at the club under Roy Keane.

Source: US Soccer
Source: US Soccer

The midfield four presented me with a few selection headaches but in the end I have gone with Bolo Zenden, Stefan Schwarz, Claudio Reyna and Steed Malbranque.  Racking up more than 200 Sunderland appearances and winning over 260 international caps between them, these four quality midfielders had a combination of skill and steel, although none of them were prolific goalscorers during their times at the Stadium of Light. Interestingly Steed Malbranque never played at full international level and such was the privacy of the man that several of his team mates sent him messages of support when it was rumoured his son was suffering from cancer – a son he didn’t have.

Sess by Jake
Sess by Jake

Up front I’ve gone for Kenwyne Jones and Stephane Sessegnon. Before being crocked by David James whilst playing for his native Trinidad and Tobago, Jones always struck me as a hard working, old fashioned centre forward with an eye for goal and a trademark celebration. One hundred and one games and twenty eight goals in the red and white of Sunderland earns him his place. There’s no doubting Sess’s ability. Though he can be profligate in front of goal he has also scored some superb goals. Hopefully he’ll stay and produce the quality of performance that we know he is capable of in the new season.

Next time I’ll look back at some of the poorer players that have come from overseas and one or two oddities too.



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 – https://safc.blog/2013/07/salut-sunderland-the-way-it-is/ – and say it there.

Sixer’s post Man City Soapbox: green shoots of optimism poke through Hong Kong mudbath

Off the subs' bench and onto the soapbox
Off the subs’ bench and onto the soapbox

With Peter (have Railcard will travel) Sixsmith off on one of his public transport jollies, travelling across country and national borders to witness lowly Annan Athletic defeat the might of Greenock Morton in the Ramsdens Trophy, it falls to deputy editor Malcolm Dawson to get up off the subs’ bench, take off his tracksuit and step into Sixer’s shoes to give us his televised take on events in the Far East, whilst the world eagerly awaits the next instalment of Paul (I was there) Goldsmith’s “Hong Kong Diary”.

(Phew! Is that the longest ever sentence in the history of Salut! Sunderland? – Ed)

I have a bone to pick with Craig Gardner. Knowing that the task of reporting on the final of the Barclays Asia Trophy was falling to me, I was hoping our stand in fullback would either score a forty yard free kick or else get himself sent off. You see I had a headline, paying homage to Siouxsie and the Banshees, all worked out. “Hong Kong – Gardner – Oh oh, oh oh oh oh!” but he let me down and I can’t use it now. Having said that the aforementioned player was involved in two heart in the mouth moments but more of that later.

Readers of a nervous disposition will be pleased to learn that yesterday wasn’t one of my volunteering days at the local naturist reserve, so it was a fully clothed me that turned on the TV to catch the last part of the third and fourth place play off match between Tottenham Hotspur and South China. At this point, it was 4-0 to the Londoners and I was thinking “As it’s only a pre-season game and Spurs have a reserve team out, there’ll be no dancing in the streets of Edmonton and Stamford Hill tonight.”

You see what those arrogant tosspots who came on here after we beat the “mighty Lilywhites” failed to realise is that following the mess Martin O’Neill left and after a complete overhaul of the squad, with a raft of signings many of whom we hadn’t even heard of, it was important to Sunderland fans to see how the team gelled and whether Paolo Di Canio’s methods might give us cause to look forward to the season ahead with optimism.

On the evidence of these two games I think we can. The manager obviously wanted to use the tournament effectively and took the games seriously and at this point I will apologise to the less bitter Spurs fans who visited us in the week and could see the bigger picture. All clubs have their share of tosspots.

I left the room and prepared some lunch as Trevor Francis came on, although I did catch him telling a tale about breaking a curfew with Graeme Souness while they were rooming together at Sampdoria. Now there’s a night out I’m glad I missed.

Di Canio started with the same XI that had begun against Spurs so it may be he is thinking this could be his first choice side – at least until we sign some proper full backs. On a pitch so reminiscent of the Baseball Ground in the 1970s I was half expecting Dave Mackay to turn up at anytime, I thought we started brightly enough.

There was plenty of early movement from our boys, some slick passing and both Colback and Wes Brown were pushing high up the pitch when they could. In these early exchanges I thought we looked the team more likely to score. Altidore was looking strong, playing with his back to goal and Adam Johnson looked lively enough.

Sess and Cabral were quiet in these early stages but it’s difficult on TV to get a true sense of just how much they were contributing out of picture. I sensed that Cabral was taking up positions and closing down players so that when City had the ball they looked for other options. Throughout the first half, Cabral would appear in the right place and he looks as if he knows how to pass the ball forward. Like Sess, Giaccherini was taking time to get into the game, but Colback, looking settled at fullback was supporting him well whilst not neglecting his defensive duties.

But it goes without saying that City have a quality squad and their forwards were causing us problems. Dzeko especially looked lively and the goal came just as the Sky Blues were beginning to assert some authority. Wes Brown I thought did well to get in his defensive header as the ball was a bit behind him. Unfortunately for him and Mannone, it only fell to Edin Dzeko who unleashed a cracker of a shot from twenty yards which fizzed past our new keeper, just inside his left hand post giving him no chance. A quality goal from a quality player.

Despite the persistent rain this was a game worthy of two Premier League sides. It was one of those games where at 1-0 I always thought we might get back into it, but where a second goal would take it out of reach. Giaccherini was now taking up some good positions and we were starting to see more of Sess. The two of them combined as the team broke forward and it looked as if we might create a scoring opportunity with a 3 v 3 situation, but the Italian’s touch let him down at the vital second and the chance went begging.

City had a few chances themselves, and the last action of the half saw a free kick lofted into the box but it was dealt with by Craig Gardner who took the unusual option of heading it across goal against the post to avert the danger. This proved to be the last action of the half and the whistle went as the ball was cleared to safety. Lucky escape number one.
salut soap
Altidore and Cabral, who had been relatively quiet were replaced at half time by Wickham and Ba, giving ourselves and the manager a chance to see what they could do for the team. Westwood, who must have been disappointed not to start, also came on for Mannone. The game was pretty even at the beginning of the second period when John O’Shea announced himself to Negrodo with a powerful leaping challenge from behind leaving the City man spread eagled in the mud on the halfway line, looking for all the world like a tourist at the Dead Sea.

On the hour the left footed David Moberg Karlsson took over Adam Johnson’s spot on the right wing, and Ba was guilty of a needless handball inside the box. Up stepped the Bosnian to get his second from the spot and put the game out of Sunderland’s reach. Except he didn’t and blasted the ball high and wide thus securing himself a spot on You Tube’s collection of the ten worst penalty kicks ever. Let off number two.

Soon afterwards we had a penalty shout of our own when Giaccherini went over, but ref Anthony Taylor got it spot on as the tackle from Kolarov was a good one. And then City broke again. A flat footed John O’Shea allowed Nasri to get behind him and fire his shot beyond Westwood, who had come off his line to force the City player out wide and narrow the angle. This was enough to allow the back tracking Gardner to clear off the line. Narrow escape number three.

Truth be told we rarely looked liked scoring but unlike so many of the games I saw last season, it did look like goal scoring opportunities were only a touch or a pass away. Larsson forced a save from a free kick near the end and Westwood made one and City deserved their win. This could so easily have been a 4-0 defeat, yet there was never that much between the sides. Yes City are a better side. They have a greater depth of quality and will be challenging for the title once again. Yes it is only a pre-season tournament and yes the conditions weren’t great but compare these two games with last year’s outings at Derby and Leicester. I’m doing it again and thinking this year could be our year. Nurse!

See what M Salut made of it at ESPN:
http://espnfc.com/blog/_/name/sunderland/id/1845?cc=5739#

Sample:

Dzeko had a glorious chance to grab a second when City were awarded a penalty for a clear if unnecessary handball by El-Hadi Ba. He placed his kick somewhat higher than row Z and how the overwhelmingly pro-Sunderland Hong Kong crowd laughed and cheered.

[Then] … two Sunderland penalty appeals within three minutes.

Stephane Sessegnon was pushed in the back by City keeper Costel Pantilimon as plainly as Ba had earlier handled the ball at the other end. Referee Anthony Taylor barely looked at it. He was right, however, to wave away louder claims when Aleksandar Kolarov’s excellent tackle defied David Moberg Karlsson



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 – https://safc.blog/2013/07/salut-sunderland-the-way-it-is/ – and say it there.

Le Parole di Paolo: fantastic fans see Di Canio philosophy in City defeat

Jake seconds him ...
Jake relaxes, too, but will soon enough have a new banner for this feature …

Seen from afar on a small screen it is still obvious that PDC wants his team to work hard, close down the opposition and play positive football. We may only have had a couple of chances and, as Spurs fans were quick to remind us, it was only a pre-season game but there is surely something to build on. This was a PDC not a MON display. As the manager tells M. Salut in his personal post match e-mail, the players are buying into his ideas and whilst there is still work to be done, things are on the up. Oh and the fans (including Goldy major) were fantastic.

Dear Colin,

I was very pleased with the game for the general condition. Yesterday we had a double training session; Manchester City only one.

It was just a few days after the Tottenham game, and on a very heavy pitch. It’s obvious we have to work hard to do better.

There are players with very good quality; they already understand my philosophy. Some still have to fully understand what I want, but this is normal. It’s only been a short time; just 23 days.

When you have a lot of new faces and you’re trying to bond and change mentality you have ups and downs, but I didn’t see any downs today, which is good.

It’s obvious we have to work hard but it’s not about the result. We are improving – we’ve only had 23 days together – new faces, new mentality – but when we kept the ball we created chances. I’m very satisfied.

The fans – what can I say? Thanks, thanks, thanks. They were amazing once again – everyone who travelled from Sunderland, from England, from all around the world and of course the local fans here.

All the best,

Paolo Di Canio



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 – https://safc.blog/2013/07/salut-sunderland-the-way-it-is/ – and say it there.

Sixer’s Sevens: Sunderland 0 Manchester City 1 – City edge Sunderland in pre-season workout

NEWsevens copy

With Peter Sixsmith off to Bonnie Scotland for a Ramsden’s Cup game, it falls to Deputy Editor Malcolm Dawson to get off the subs’ bench and give us his seven word verdict on the final of the Hong Kong based Barclay’s Asia Trophy.

Read moreSixer’s Sevens: Sunderland 0 Manchester City 1 – City edge Sunderland in pre-season workout

Birflatt Boy: comings and goings herald new dawn at Sunderland AFC

Birflatt Boy sees all the summer transfer activity, with more than a few words of gratitude to a former manager, as a potential pivotal point in Black Cat’s history. The Di Canio revolution he argues, backed by, or more likely galvanised by our American owner, can be the catalyst for a change in the way in which the club, its fans and the world perceive Sunderland Association Football Club.

Birflatt Boy adding weight to his argument
Birflatt Boy adding weight to the argument
There’s really only one word to describe the transfer activity at Sunderland this close season, and that’s “breathtaking.” Players seem to be arriving almost on a daily basis. Well, alright, that might be something of an exaggeration but for this summer at least it’s clear that we are able to get a lot of the players we want, when we want. Beneath the headlines which alert us to another new arrival there are probably a good few more that we haven’t quite been able to get to sign, for a host of different reasons. The rumour mill keeps on churning them out, but for once in living memory there does appear to be more than a hint of truth in what we read and hear.

The “comings” and perhaps more importantly the “goings” which naturally receive a lot less attention have been really sweeping. Bramble and Kilgallon were sent packing at the end of their contracts. Elmo’s permanent future has been resolved in a reunion with Cribbins in East Yorkshire. You would have thought that signing this player once would be enough for any manager, even Bruce, but twice, really? Bruce clearly has a conscience, spurred by his failings at Sunderland he seems hell bent on repeating the same failings on Humberside taking Danny Graham on a season long loan. Hull are also being linked with Cattermole and also the B52, although Bruce has been quoted as saying that Mr Bendtner ‘is probably going to cost too much.” That’s not quite a euphemism for “not cheap enough.” Bruce may turn out to be the best manager we ever had managing someone else. Not only is he happy to relieve us of the rubbish he signed for us, but he is happy to take some of the dross acquired by his successor. Long may this continue and we may hope that Graham’s taxi comes straight back for Cattermole, if rumours are to be believed. Dare we hope he returns yet again for McClean? The prospect of that remains a Birflattian dream.

The latest speculation is that a Turkish club have now made a serious offer for the other January acquisition Alfred N’Diaye. West London, and Martin Jol’s Fulham seem contenders to end Phil Bardsley’s stint in rolling around in used bank notes. It’s a disappointing end to a player, who unlike many of his peers never seemed to hide. Not the most gifted of players, he appeared to give his all and was our Player of the Season, not so very long ago. It’s a pity that fact has been forgotten already. Perhaps I am being too charitable about an average footballer who is earning over 30 grand a week. I hope he enjoyed playing with the U21s the other day. (And in a 3-2 win v Darlington at Bishop Auckland yesterday – ed)

Having digressed so completely, from the intention of this article, which was about how “breathtaking” the personnel changes have been, what is most impressive is not only the speed at which dead wood is being cleared, but that the intentions of our management team have been made loud and clear. PDC has wasted no time in marking the cards of players who don’t fit into his plans. There will be more departures in the next few weeks, and quite possibly a few more arrivals. We have never previously signed a current Italian international with two Serie A titles to his name; a player in his prime, yet we have done that. It’s not all down to the manager of course, and without the sheer guile, commitment and conviction of Ellis Short we would be sitting here with O’Neill at the helm and looking forward to trips to Barnsley and Yeovil. There were a significant number of our supporters who were happy to accept our fate, refusing to embrace the required changes back at the end of March. The transfers both in and out over the course of the summer have been rapid and show a real conviction, but it’s really been the behind the scenes events, and the initial recruitment of a well connected scouting team which has made this all possible.

For decade upon decade we have not been taken seriously as a football club, and that has had to change. The persona, the public face and character of Sunderland AFC had to change, and my goodness, has it changed. This is not to say that the season ahead will be without its challenges. There are a lot of new players who are going to have to settle and adjust. The tried and failed methods of old have gone in one fell swoop. The way in which we are perceived by the wider world has changed, and that is long overdue and welcome. That too has been “breathtaking” but perhaps the most significant change is yet to come, and that is in the way that we perceive ourselves and our club. For the first time in most of our lifetimes we look like we are serious about all of this and that’s got to be the most “breathtaking’ of all. We might even stop harping on about 1973.

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 – https://safc.blog/2013/07/salut-sunderland-the-way-it-is/ – and say it there.

The History Programme: (5) Fulham’s record breaking visit to the Stadium of Light

In the fifth and final part of his look at programmes from a lifetime supporting Sunderland, Pete Sixsmith brings us into the 21st Century with his reminiscences of a season many of us would prefer to forget. When Fulham visited on the 4th May 2006 for the final home game that season it really looked as if supporters would witness an entire campaign without seeing a victory at the Stadium of Light.

Fulham Programme 1And so we arrive in the last decade in our look at the last fifty years of supporting Sunderland. As usual, it proved to be an up and down one, with relegations, promotions and near misses. It also provided us with possibly the poorest team in the club’s long and glorious history – that of the infamous 15 point season.

Under Mick McCarthy we had won the Championship the previous year with a team that was put together to do precisely that. Dean Whitehead, Liam Lawrence and Stephen Elliott were perfect signings and they all played major parts in our fourth second tier title.

But when it came to the top level, they needed support if we were to make a success of it. Unfortunately, what little cash was made available to the Barnsley Bruiser was not spent on proven top level players and that support was not forthcoming.

Look at the players who came in. Kelvin Davies who was very quickly nicknamed “Calamity Kelvin” by the much missed Dave Lish.

Then there was Jonathan Stead, a centre forward of some potential at Huddersfield Town, but who had failed at Blackburn Rovers. However, Mick decided to blow a third of his budget and give the man who grew up playing Rugby League a second chance. He didn’t score until April 1st. Everton were the fools that day.

Nyron Nosworthy was picked up on a free from Gillingham. He was a great character and had a brilliant season the following year under Roy Keane, but he struggled in this team. His 60 yard back pass at Middlesbrough which ended up as a corner had Mick scratching head, chin and a*** in bewilderment.

On the eve of the season, in came Andy Gray from Barnsley to spearhead the attack. He scored on his debut (pen against Charlton) and that was it. No more goals and eventually he was shipped out on loan by February. His performance in the Cup defeat at Brentford was as inept as anything I have ever seen in a Sunderland shirt.

Our third “forward” – using the term lightly – was loanee Anthony le Tallec. The young Frenhman had been signed by Gerard Houllier and was shipped out to us to gain experience. He had loads of ability but his commitment and heart were in direct contrast. Still, he scored more goals than Stead and Gray put together – a grand total of 6 to ranking him alongside names like Brian Clough, Len Shackleton and Kevin Phillips as a season’s leading scorer.

Tommy Miller had arrived from Ipswich Town and became “Mr Anonymity”, looking every inch a Championship player. Nice lad, good trainer but totally out of his depth in the Premier League. He is now at Swindon Town – guess who signed him!!!
Fulham Programme 2
Justin Hoyte, on a season’s loan from Arsenal, was one of the few players who improved as the campaign rumbled on. He had played in successful teams all his life until he pitched up at Sunderland. He almost became a legend when he put us ahead against the Mags, but the defence had its usual stinker and they scored four – even Chopra got one. He must have got a good price at Corals.

During the season, we brought in Christian Bassila, a French journeyman who like Baldrick’s war poem, started badly and then went downhill and Rory Delap who never once took a throw in, although he did score a splendid goal at Everton.

The season started badly with a 3-1 home defeat to Charlton Athletic, with a certain Darren Bent bagging two of them and we never looked like dragging ourselves out of the mire. By the time the Fulham game came around for the second time, we were one game away from going through an entire season without a home win.

I say again, because the original game on Apil 8th had been abandoned after 21 minutes due to a combination of snow and rain. At the time The Cottagers were a goal up thanks to Brian McBride and looked the more likely winners.
Fulham Programme 3
They clearly didn’t fancy a return to Wearside and went two goals down to strikes from Le Tallec and Chris Brown before Tomasz Radzinski pulled one back. Memory serves that Davies had a decent game that night against a team that featured Steed Malbranque and Wayne Bridge, one of whom a few years later made a significant contribution to SAFC and one who didn’t.

The whole sorry farrago ended a few days later at Villa Park and we had grave fears about our club’s future. And then, along came Niall Quinn and the Drumaville boys and the rest is history.

I chose this programme because it did end a traumatic season for us and also because of the date of the game. I spent my next “work” day making the Ferryhill students write the date at every opportunity, which just goes to reinforce the view that I am among the saddest of the sad.

It’s also a very good example of the excellent programme that Rob Mason and his team now produce. Priced at £3.00 there is sufficient reading in it to sustain a lengthy bus journey home. Alas, the local adverts were a bit thin on the ground – The Fry Fry in Bridge Street had closed down by then and Reg Vardy had gobbled up Byers Dunn Turvey, but there is an interview with former Bishop Auckland Grammar School lad Les Wood, a Red and White of my vintage and all round good egg.

And that, as they say, is that. I hope to have revived some memories, both good and bad and look forward to welcoming Fulham and their 25 travelling fans to the Stadium on the 17th.of next month. I suspect the Cottagers’ team will be more readily identifiable than our lot!!!

Finally a word of thanks to Keith Scott, a good friend an even better Sunderland fan for the loan of the programmes.

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 – https://safc.blog/2013/07/salut-sunderland-the-way-it-is/ – and say it there.

Sixer says: all change at Sunderland and Watmore to come!

After such a disappointing campaign last season, this summer’s hectic business in the transfer market surely reflects the club’s determination to achieve better things in the forthcoming campaign, writes Malcolm Dawson. With all the interest in the Italians and the Cape Verde Swiss, the Argentinians and Swedes, the Americans, the Senegalese French and the Uruguayans, it is an Englishman who is occupying Pete Sixsmith’s thoughts …

Sixer offers Mag builder a history lesson
Sixer wonders what more is in the pipeline

Read moreSixer says: all change at Sunderland and Watmore to come!

Sixer’s Sentiments: looking forward to another Premiership campaign?

Pete drowns his sorrows.....again
Pete drowns his sorrows…..again
Peter Sixsmith is as die hard a Sunderland fan as you are likely to find, such a resolute red and white that he won’t watch anything on telly featuring Ant and Dec, won’t listen to a Jimmy Nail record and won’t eat cod and chips from Fields at Esh Winning if he thinks Robson Green might have been off the coast of Iceland with his 12 foot pole and keep net. He hardly misses a match and Sunderland AFC occupies a major part of his non working, and much of his working, life. He has followed the team for over fifty years so he is no stranger to disappointment and unfulfilled expectation but this season has seen him sink into a trough of despond that has him hankering for a simple life in the Home Counties, where the only concerns in life are having an intruder throw a toaster into your bath, or an eccentric septuagenarian widow offering you a glass of home made cordial, laced with deadly nightshade.

What follows is his take on last night’s news from Norf Laaandan …

ANOTHER PREMIER SEASON BECKONS

Should that be beckons or looms? After last night’s events in North London, the club and we supporters can begin to prepare for a seventh consecutive season in the top flight, which is a reasonable record and indicates some form of stability.

Since we came back up under Roy Keane, we have experienced major changes in the boardroom, with the likes of Cheerful Charlie Chawlke being superseded by a much more ruthless Ellis Short and a number of managerial changes – Keane, Sbragia, Bruce, O’Neill and now Di Canio.

A huge amount of money has been spent, some wisely, (Mignolet, Fletcher, Bent) some not so well (Angeleri, Chopra, Diouf) plus an awful lot of mediocrity (Graham, Taino, Gardner). And we are still faffing around at the bottom of the league, always looking over our shoulders and rarely launching any kind of decent challenge for the upper echelons or the two Cup Finals we could play in.

This season, we survived because over 38 games we were marginally better than Wigan Athletic, a club which attracts crowds that are less than half of ours and who have a defence as porous as the roof that covers Sixsmith Towers. We failed to ensure our own safety with two dismal home performances against sides around us, meaning that thousands of red and whites were glued to Sky TV or 5Live as the drama at Ashburton Grove unfolded.

I looked at the text at 8pm, saw that Podolski had scored and then put the remote control well out of arm’s length before settling back to wallow in the Englishness of Midsomer Murders and the dystopian (and exclusively white, bourgeois) world that is the Cotswolds.

As Doctors (Simon Callow doing pompous and randy) and former Travellers (Scotsman with drink and aggression problems) were murdered and skeletons tumbled out of family cupboards, I was oblivious to the fact that Shaun Maloney had equalised and Aroune Kone had missed an excellent opportunity to put the Pie Boys ahead.

It was not until John Nettles was about to arrest the gardener (too nice, too caring – had him worked out early on) that a text from John Penman told me Arsene did deserve the trust that we and many thousands of Gooners have in him and that Wigan had lost and were down, so we had survived.

There were no whoops and cheers in the living room, more a shrug of the shoulders and an acceptance that I will be up at 5am.on Sunday to see the Lads at Tottenham and wave goodbye to what has been the most disappointing and least satisfying of the 49 seasons that I have been a regular Sunderland supporter.

Maybe we will put on a show at White Hart Lane and make the watching world see we have mental strength and no little skill. I do anticipate a rousing final game, but fear that most of the rousing will come from the Lilywhites and we will be left bruised and battered but still a top flight club.

Maybe I can smuggle a Midsomer Murders DVD on the coach and sit and watch it while the ritual disembowelling takes place inside WHL. Inspector Barnaby for manager anyone?



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



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