It is baffling how some people manage to look back on Peter Reid’s time at Sunderland and remember only the atrocious slump that brought his reign to an end. Inspired by a excellent Louise Taylor article on the fight Reid has on his hands at Plymouth Argyle, Pete Sixsmith applies some balance – and wishes Reid well in the uphill struggle he’s taken on …
Louise Taylor wrote a super piece in yesterday’s Guardian about Peter Reid and his travails at Plymouth Argyle. The gist was that Reidy was the guy who was holding Argyle together as their financial crisis reached Irish government proportions. No owners, no money, a points deduction and almost certain relegation to the bottom division – and the very clear possibility of liquidation.
It was a very affectionate article from someone who probably had dealings with Reid when he was in his pomp at Sunderland. He was not universally popular amongst the press corps. Apparently, he could be witty and amusing but also rude and boorish and I am sure that Louise witnessed both sides of his character.
She says that his spell in Thailand, where people are “more genteel” and possess a fixation with preserving public face, taught Reid that shouting and bawling at players was probably not the best way to deal with them.
He wasn’t like that at Sunderland and his rows and spats with players became the stuff of legend. It probably contributed to his (and our demise) after four wonderful seasons on Wearside and the fact that he has not had any success in management since those two seventh place finishes can probably be explained by the poor reputation that he acquired in his final years at Sunderland.
Those four good seasons showed off his strengths as a manager. He wanted to play football and signed players who had skill and who wanted to do as well as he did. Have we had better players than Kevin Phillips, Michael Gray, Tommy Sorenson and Chris Makin since then? Doubtful.
The team that won promotion in 2000 was undoubtedly the best side I have seen at the Stadium of Light. Johnston, Clark and Melville all contributed to that success, but for various reasons were deemed surplus to requirements and left to be replaced by the likes of Steve Bould, Julio Arca and Stefan Schwarz – all top class players and all important figures in Reid’s desire to build a great Sunderland team.
We didn’t see a lot of Steve Bould, but what a signing. No messing about with Bould: tackles and headers were won, the ball was passed if it could be and cleared if it couldn’t. For the first half of this season, it looked as if Titus Bramble was going to be a worthy successor – he did what Bould did, but injuries have held him back since December and this has contributed to our defensive fragility.
Reid was no angel, as Premier Passions showed only too clearly. He could be as foul mouthed as Wayne Rooney, as vindictive as Colonel Gadaffi and as stubborn as George Osborne. But you got the feeling he cared about our club and this has now been transferred to Plymouth Argyle.
Taylor quotes him as saying: “If I’d known what I know now I might not have come here in June, but this club gets hold of you. The important thing is to maintain our dignity and work ethic – and to remember that Plymouth Argyle matters more than individuals.”
Fine sentiments and his actions back up his words. Reid is paying the electricity bills at Home Park and he persuaded Rory Fallon, the New Zealand World Cup man (see Comments), to stay and help Argyle rather than move to Bristol Rovers and a guaranteed monthly salary.
He was much maligned during his last couple of years at Sunderland and the shameful episode in Belgium, where some low-life threw beer at him probably made him realise his time was up. With hindsight, he probably knew he should have gone at the end of the season when we struggled to avoid the drop and he was reduced to bringing in flops like M’Bomba, Bellion and Laslandes.
The next season was a disaster for him and he must have nightmares about the money wasted on Stewart, Prior and Flo. He won’t have that problem at Argyle.
I hope things go well for him. He was a very important figure in the history of our club and gave many of us a real buzz, particularly with the two wins at the Landfill Site. Here’s hoping that Plymouth and Reidy can survive.
* See Louise Taylor’s article here
And these earlier items at Salut! Sunderland: