As it’s five years since we turned Covent Garden, and various other parts of the capital, red and white, making a load of new football friends in the process, we thought it’d be nice to see what the class of ’14 have been up to since that enjoyable, if ultimately unsuccessful, weekend.
Vito Manonne arrived in the summer of 2013, after about ten years in Arsenal’s reserves, where he played 23 times plus a few on loan for Hull and Barnsley. After being kept out initially by Kieran Westwood, he made his name in the League Cup run, saving two penalties in the shoot-out at Old Trafford in the semi-final to cement his place as a fans’ favourite, He was the unsurprising choice as fans’ and club Player of the Season. After scoring one of our own goals at Southampton (0-8, ask yer big brother) he lost his place to Pantillimon, with whom he vied for a place for the rest if his time on Wearside. Sold to Reading in 2017, we replaced him with Jason Steele, Robin Ruiter, and eventually Lee Camp… well, at least we had £2 million. After falling out of favour at the Madjeski, he’s just gone on loan to Minnesota Utd in the USA. 80 games, 81 times an unused substitute, not a single goal
Phil Bardsley. His five-year career at Old Trafford having produced only eight appearances, plus others at Royal Antwerp, Villa, Rangers, Burnley, and Sheffield Utd, Phil came to us in 2008 in exchange for £850,000, with Roy Keane putting him straight into the team. Probably best described as a no-nonsense full-back, Phil had to contend with Alan Hutton arriving on loan, then fell behind Pascal Chimbonda (certainly not a no-nonsense full-back) in the pecking order before establishing himself again, earning the Player of the Season award in 2010-11. Towards the end of the 2012-13 season, there was a very public falling out, over a casino visit, with manger Di Canio who promised never to play him again. Unfortunately, Paolo was mad, and after being suspended by the club after saying something daft on social media, Phil was brought back into the fold by Gus Poyet. He scored at Old Trafford in the League Cup semi-final but was deemed unworthy of a new contract – so he’s gone on to play 95 Premier League games for Stoke and Burnley since then. ‘Nuff said. 200 games, 11 goals.
Marcos Alonso arrived on loan from Fiorentina, after starting out at Real Madrid and having a good spell at Bolton, at the beginning of 2014, and played 20 times as he helped us to Wembley and Premier League safety. Allegedly, we couldn’t/wouldn’t find the money to sign him permanently at the end of his loan spell, which is just as well, as he’s only managed a solitary Premier League title and FA Cup in his three seasons at Chelsea, as well as three Spanish caps. Dodged a bullet there, eh? Here’s one for the next quiz, his dad and granddad also played for Spain. 20 games, no goals.
Wes Brown. Another Keano connection, Big Bad Wes had a cupboard full of honours from his Man Utd days, but his time with us was a mixture of pure class and dodgy knees. After featuring 22 times in 2010-2011, Wes missed the whole of 2012-13, then managed 31 in the League Cup season. At the end of 2015-16 season his one-year contract extension expired at the age of 36, and he joined Blackburn, where he played five times, then Kerala Blasters in India, where he played 15. 87 games, 1 goal (QPR away, featuring Jarvis the dog’s first TV appearance), 3 own goals, unfairly criticised for using cereal box discount coupons to shop with his kids.
John O’Shea. See Wes Brown for almost identical honours list and previous club. O’Shea was club captain for most of his time at SAFC, which was due to end in 2017, but he signed an extension and promptly achieved consecutive relegations as captain. Oops. Since signing for Reading he’s played nine games. 256 games, 4 goals, 2 own goals, more Premier League games for us than anyone else.
Lee Cattermole. You should really know this bit
Jack Colback. After coming through our ranks, Jack had two successful loans at Ipswich between 2009 and 2011 before becoming a regular in our midfield and scoring in one of our 3-0s at Sid James Park. After showing versatility by filling in well at left back, he followed the cup final by rejecting a new contract and went on a free to them up the road, ensuring a special place in our hearts. At the beginning of 2017-18, Rafa the Gaffa didn’t give him a place in the squad, and after several months doing nowt he went on loan to Forest, where he remains. 136 games, 5 goals, Judas of the Year 2013-14.
Seb Larsson. After nearly 200 games for Arsenal and Birmingham (well, 3 for Arsenal) Seb arrived in 2011 and quickly established himself on the right side of midfield. After a debut volleyed goal against Liverpool, his prowess with free-kicks was a big feature from the start, although his corners quickly became a regular header for the near-post defender. A “typical” free kick won us Martin O’Niell’s first game in charge and Seb was a mainstay of the team for most of his time with us. After six seasons there was no contract offer, so he went to Hull – and played 40 times in the Championship. Since then, he’s moved back to AIK in Sweden and has reached 108 international caps, playing in last summer’s World Cup. Not good enough for us, obviously. 203 games, 14 goals.
Ki Sung-Yeung. Quite why Swansea loaned us Ki, a year after they paid £6 million for him and he played 38 times in his debut season, is a bit of a mystery. He scored an early penalty that brought us victory at Goodison, and weighed in with classy performances and vital goals, although there was a suspicion that his performances towards the end of the campaign suffered because of the forthcoming World Cup and his place in the South Korean squad. Nevertheless, he helped us to Wembley and league safety before heading back to Wales. After 121 games over the following four seasons, he blotted his copybook by signing for them up the road. 34 games, 4 goals.
Adam Johnson. No comment.
Fabio Borini. Joining us on loan from Liverpool in September 2013, after spells at Chelsea, Swansea, and Roma, Fabio was an instant hit. His dagger-biting celebrations became a Wearside favourite, and his three-goal contribution to the League Cup run was vital. That belter after only ten minutes at Wembley had the lot. Outside of the boot, real power, and for the underdogs, giving us fans 45 minutes of ecstasy before City overpowered us. He returned to Merseyside, where he scored once in 18 games in 2014-15, and with constant rumours of a permanent back to SR5. After protracted discussions, he eventually arrived in August 2015 for £8 to £10 million, depending who you believe, and things took a downward turn. Despite his goals being spectacular – have a look on YouTube – there simply weren’t enough of them, and a nasty injury in August 2016 kept him out until December. Two goals all season prompted a loan to AC Milan, where he scored five times in 43 games, prompting a permanent deal that went through in July 2018. Knowing us, we’ll have got about 50p for him. 93 games, 17 goals.
Oscar Ustarsi (unused) came from Almeria via Independiente (for whom he actually scored), Getafe, and Boca Juniors, arriving on a six-month contract in January 2014. The only game he played were in the FA Cup. Kidderminster, Southampton, and that game at Hull where he became our joint most successful keeper, along with Cammy Duncan, by saving the only penalty he faced. We still lost 3-0, but you knew that. He’s since played for Newell’s Old Boys in his home country of Argentina and Atlas in Mexico. 3 games, no goals
Emanuele Giaccherini (Cattermole, 77) had played all over Italy, mostly on loan, when he arrived in the summer of 2013. His ability was obvious, but I don’t think we knew exactly where to play him. Despite being the height of Bobby Kerr, he scored his first goal with his head at Southampton but was in and out of the side. His performance at Man City in the 2-2 draw during our Greatest Escape was superb, creating both goals, but injuries in pre-season and in September kept him out for a while. He did his ankle again in January and managed only a few minutes from the bench in our final game at Chelsea. Still unsure of what to do with him, we loaned him to Bologna, where he was injured on his debut but still managed seven goal in 28 games. Once that loan was up, we sold him for about £1.5 million to Napoli, and he’s since moved to Chievo. 43 games, 5 goals.
Ondrej Celutska (unused) came on a season’s loan from Trabzonspor, after time with Palermo, Slavia Prague, and FC Tescoma Zlin (Czech Republic) and was quickly labelled the poor man’s Bardsley as he filled in for Phil. He’s since played 31 times for 1. FC Nurnburg and 102 and for Antalyaspor of Turkey. 21 games, no goals.
Santiago Vergini (unused) Ah, Santiago baby, the Argentinian you wanted to like but who was just too inconsistent, arrived on loan from Estudiantes in January 2014, then extended the loan to cover the 2014-15 season. Best remembered, unfortunately, for the opening goal at Southampton in October when he hit a perfect volley past Manonne from 20 yards. Despite this aberration, he made 31 league appearances in the league and our avoidance of relegation triggered a permanent transfer in the summer of 2015. So, we immediately loaned him to Getafe for the season before selling him to Boca Juniors for an undisclosed fee. He’s since moved to Bursaspor. 51 games, no goals, the own goal that all own goals are now defined by.
Craig Gardner (Johnson 60) arrived from Brum with Seb, and his games were typified by thumping tackles and booming long-range shots. Despite missing our 3-0 up the road under Di Canio due to suspension, he sat with us and sang on the way home on the Metro. After two seasons as a virtual ever-present, he only managed 26 in his last, and when his contract expired he moved to West Brom, served them for three years before moving back to Brum. 100 games, 14 goals
Steven Fletcher (Larsson 60). Possibly the scruffiest player we’ve ever had, what with the tats, the thumbs through the sleeves, and the nearly beard, Fletch started his Sunderland career with a brace at Swansea and five in his first four league games. Rightly, we expected great things after his £12 million arrival from Wolves, but after that terrific start the goals slowed down a bit and he finished the 2012-13 season with 13. Three in 25 in 2013-14 was the reason he was on the bench for the final, and in February 2016 he somehow wangled a loan to Marseilles, where he scored three in thirteen before getting a freebie to Sheff Wed.
Ignacio Scocco (unused) is one of those “why did we bother?” signings. After 97 goals all over the world, he was supposed to be the fox in the box that all teams yearn for, and we expected a few goals when he arrived from Internacionale in January 2014 for about £3.5 million. After no goals in six substitute appearances, and two starts in the FA Cup, both of which saw him replaced, we sold him for approximately half what we’d paid, he joined Newell’s Old Boys for the third time. 8 games, no goals.