Super SuperKev …..
Super Kevin, er, Kilbane?
Well, there are Kevins and there are Kevins. Somehow, ending that chant with the word Kilbane doesn’t seem right.
The received wisdom is that Sunderland fans should look back on Kilbane’s time at the Stadium of Light with a shudder of despair.
Salut! Sunderland – or at least the part of it that is declaring its hand today – wishes KK to know, assuming he or someone close to him is an avid reader of the site, that he carries our heartiest best wishes tonight as he wins his 100th cap for the Republic of Ireland.
Kilbane was never an especially popular player after his signing from West Brom, where he was adored, up to his departure for Everton, where he was also adored. Did he get a fair crack of the whip from our fans? Probably not, though he did his own cause litle good with a string of poor performances in Sunderland colours. The question may be: which came first, the lacklustre and occasionally incompetent football or the loudly expressed disdain of our fans?
Every good point in Kilbane’s favour ends up being cancelled out. “That cross”, the one he put in on his SoL debut against Southampton for the real SuperKev to score, has become almost a cliche, and KK’s harshest critics would say he never did another good thing for us.
The goal against Derby when he cut in brilliantly from the right and scored with a superb strike from outside the penalty area? Hands up those who also remember that later in the same match, he sent the most woeful long back pass imaginable in Tommy Sorensen’s general direction, allowing the Rams back into the game and leaving us hanging on for the three points.
The spectacular at the Dell? Didn’t mean it, say the sceptics. That vital early equaliser helping us draw away to Charlton, a point that we desperately needed as we battled against relegation? “Glad I was late in the ground and didn’t have to cheer a goal by that useless twat,” – or words to that effect – said a bloke near me.
Kilbane undoubtedly had a collapse of confidence while at Sunderland. Peter Reid arguably preferred to play a mis-shapen team than exclude him. He may even have played him out of position. But broadly speaking, didn’t we get the honest endeavour of a player who had limitations but always gave it his best shot?
Views differ to this day, six years after he left for Goodison.
At Ready To Go, “Dickie” wrote: “I never saw him play a decent game in a Sunderland strip! In fact I have never seen him play a good game!”
There was also a vicious little post from chris_dunne59:” Surely its worth remarking when he actually gets to 100. Love it if he somehow never made it.”
Chris – was that him at the Valley? – got more or less what he deserved, his charmless contribution condemned by other Sunderland fans as “sad”. Dickie? I am not suggesting he is blind, or has trouble with memory or saw Kilbane in too few games to form a fair opinion. All I will say is that while he greatly under-achieved at Sunderland, I do recall him playing well enough, often enough to put a long distance between him and the worst players I’ve seen in red and white stripes.
Even if he had never put a foot right for us, I’d be delighted to congratulate him – and Shay Given, who played a huge part in a promotion season for us, for all that his next career choice left a nasty taste in the mouth – on being selected, each for his 100th Irish cap, for tonight’s game against Montenegro at Croke Park.
And I’ll leave it to an Everton fan, previewing a SAFC v Toffees game for Salut! Sunderland – to sum up the Kevin Kilbane he knew:
Zinedine? A hugely underrated player for Everton. One of those 6 out of 10 or 7 out of 10 players who never did anything wrong, but never overwhelmed anyone. The change from signing the Kilbanes of this world to signing the Pienaars instead is indicative of the gradual transformation of Everton under Moyes.
* The photo of Kevin Kilbane comes from his support for Operation Hoodie , which aims to “raise awareness and hopefully some dosh for Cancer Research UK. It Involves the selling of our specially branded Cancer Research UK hoodies, with ALL the pictures being hosted on our Operation Hoodie website. Before the hoodies are made available we are getting high-profile people to promote our product.”