After learning of Jack Ross taking over at Hibs, I thought it would be interesting to have a look on Twitter to see what Sunderland fans had to say about him now. There was the odd comment about how he did a good job, a few that said he was shite and a some simply commented “1-1” which brought a smile. One comment stuck in my head. “He will probably do really well, as is the case with most people when they leave Sunderland.”
That comment got me thinking, it’s a topic that me and me fatha have often laughed about, how very few players, or managers, have gone on to succeed after leaving Sunderland.
The first person who came to mind was Peter Reid. I was 8 when he took over and 14 when he was sacked and I can remember being devastated that we’d fired him. I was convinced it was a mistake, despite us being bottom of the league. Howard Wilkinson came in and we went down with a record low points and Reidy had failed spells at Coventry, Leeds and Plymouth and then ended up in Thailand. Never eclipsing what he achieved at Sunderland.
My next one was Kevin Phillips. His goals and partnership with Quinny gained him legendary status on Wearside. I can still remember him passing his boots to a fan on the last day of the season. He clearly enjoyed red and white stripes and off to Southampton he went. He maintained his goal scoring record as he moved from club to club. Winning the Championship a few times with Leicester and West Brom and also gaining promotion with Palace and Birmingham. Despite this he never really hit the heights of his days at the SOL.
Mick McCarthy built a team of young lads plucked from lower leagues, mixed with a few Premier League journeymen. I did have a soft spot for Sleeves Elliott and Tommy Smith, but again no one in that promotion side went on to bigger and better things. Dean Whitehead and Liam Lawrence had spells at Stoke, still hardly setting the world alight. During this time Stoke had a team full of ex SAFC players, Dean Whitehead, Danny Collins, Kenwyne Jones, Rory Delap, Danny Higginbotham, Liam Lawrence and Tommy Sorensen all spring to mind…
Had Jermain Defoe been a little big younger when he left SAFC, he would of most definitely have gone on to join a big club. However, coming back in a swap deal for Altidore (still the best transfer deal in history) he quickly put to bed fears that his pace had gone, and I think he could still do a job in most Premier League sides.
However, there are two former SAFC players who have gone on to succeed after leaving Sunderland. One is Jordan Pickford, England’s number one and the other is Jordan Henderson, the current club captain of the European Champions. Two homegrown players, both Sunderland daft and both great players in their own right.