Sunday just gone marked six years since Sunderland suffered their heaviest ever Premier League defeat at the hands of Southampton. Gus Poyet’s side went into the game in 11th place in the Premier League, losing only one of their first seven games. Beating Stoke 3-1 the week before there was a sense of optimism as we headed to the South Coast and a belief that we could have a season of mid table mediocracy instead of the usual relegation dogfight.
The trip to Southampton is bad enough before the game even starts. A round trip of 653.4 miles, taking 11 hours, is not for the faint hearted and you expect your side to at least try when you eventually get there. What transpired that afternoon at St Mary’s will stay in the minds of Sunderland fans for many years to come, that’s unless you have already tried to erase it from your memory. Sunderland lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation on that fateful afternoon. This article will look at the players that helped Sunderland to an 8-0 hammering and where they are now.
GK – Vito Mannone
Winner of the previous season’s player of the year award Mannone’s performance that day left a lot to be desired. As well as having to pick the ball out the net EIGHT times he was also at fault for Southampton’s 3rd and 6th goal. A defeat at home to Arsenal a week later cost Mannone his place in the team. The giant Costel Pantilimon became our first choice keeper for the remainder of the season. It must be said that despite this performance Vito’s cult hero status remains intact. His saves at Old Trafford in the League Cup Semi-Final will never be forgotten. Mannone regained his place under Sam Allardyce in the 2015-16 season after Pantilimon left for Watford. Vito left the club in July 2017, signing for Reading for £2 million. He has since gone onto play for Minnesota United, where he was named MLS goalkeeper of the year in 2019. In September 2020 he signed for French side Monaco.
RB – Santiago Vergini
Scorer of Southampton’s first that day, Vergini’s own goal has to be the most spectacular own goal in Premier League history. The volley past Mannone was of an accomplished striker, Marco Van Basten would have been proud of it. Still to this day no one knows what the Argentinian was attempting. After his Sunderland spell Vergini has played for Getafe, Bursaspor and Boca Juniors in his native Argentina. In 2019 he signed for his current club San Lorenzo.
CB – John O’Shea
Winner of countless trophies including Premier League’s and Champions League’s, John O’Shea will look back at this game as a career low. The former Manchester United defender was SAFC’s captain that day and at the heart of Sunderland’s defence. The Irishmen stayed at Sunderland until our relegation from the Championship in 2018. He then signed for Reading the same summer and retired there at the end of the 2018/19 season. In July 2019 he became a first team coach at Reading and is still in his role at present.
CB – Wes Brown
Like O’Shea, Brown has had many career highs but this is a day he’ll want to forget. The former England International only managed 45 minutes before he was brought off. Plagued by injuries at Sunderland, Brown rarely got to show the ability he had at Manchester United. In September 2016 he signed for Blackburn Rovers before joining Indian side Kerala Blasters in 2017. He has since gone on to be part of the Blackburn Under 23’s coaching team.
LB – Patrick Van Aanholt
PVA was the scorer of Sunderland’s third own goal and Southampton’s eight in October 2014. Despite this disaster of a performance Van Aanholt had a largely positive spell at Sunderland. He scored eight times, including a memorable free kick at home to Everton in May 2016. In January 2017 the adventurous left back signed for Crystal Palace for £14 million. He has since become a first team regular at Selhurst Park however an injury in July 2020 has left him facing months out the game.
CDM – Lee Cattermole
Lee Barry Cattermole. Captain, leader, legend. Love him or loathe him Cattermole wore his heart on his sleeve and was never afraid from diving into a tackle. His job that day was to protect the defence and as you can see by the score line it went spectacularly well. Cattermole remained a key figure at Sunderland even after our relegation to League One in 2018. In July 2019 Cattermole announced his departure from Sunderland after ten years at the club. He signed for Dutch side VVV-Venlo in August 2019. He was released in May 2020 and has since hung up his boots.
LM – Will Buckley
Buckley had established himself in the first team during Poyet’s reign and did always look dangerous when attacking down the wing. However he took on a more defensive role that day. Buckley’s Sunderland highlight was an assist to Adam Johnson in our stoppage time victory at St James’s Park in December 2014. A knee injury lost Buckley his place in the team and after Poyet’s sacking he never regained his place. After a number of loan spells away from the club he was released in 2017 and signed for Bolton. He stayed there until his release in June 2020.
CM – Sebastian Larsson
A first team regular during his time with the Black Cats Larsson was either taking a set piece or arguing with the referee. He played 60 minutes at St Mary’s before being replaced by Jack Rodwell. After his contract ending coincided with our relegation from the Premier League in 2017 he went on to sign for Hull City. In 2018 Larsson returned to his native Sweden to play for AIK where he is still playing.
CM – Jordi Gomez
Possibly the only Jordi that Sunderland fans could tolerate at the Stadium of Light. Gomez did nothing of note on that afternoon as with most of the Sunderland side. He was hauled off after 60 minutes along with Larsson. He went on to be a key figure for the lads after that game, scoring numerous penalties during the 14/15 season. In January 2016 he was loaned to Blackburn Rovers before he later re-signed for Wigan Athletic in the summer of 2016. He currently plays for Cypriot side AC Omonia, where he won the Cypriot first division title in 2020.
RM – Connor Wickham
After signing in 2011 Wickham had struggled to cement a place in the Sunderland starting XI until his goals had sparked the great escape at the end of the 2013/14 season. He was part of a non-existent Sunderland attack that day. In 2015 he signed for Crystal Palace in a deal worth £9 million. Wickham ended up on loan at Sheffield Wednesday in the second half of the 2019/20 season. He has not been included in Palace’s Premier League squad for the 2020/21 campaign which will most likely result in him moving on from the club.
ST – Steven Fletcher
Our record signing for a number of years Fletcher led the line at Southampton. Having scored twice the previous week Fletcher went into the game bang in form but struggled to produce anything of note. The Scottish international could not have done much that afternoon so he can be excused from the poor Sunderland performance. He went onto score a double a few weeks later at Crystal Palace but only scored one more in the rest of the 2014/15 season. In January 2016 he bizarrely signed for French side Marseille on loan. After his release from Sunderland Fletcher signed for Sheffield Wednesday in July 2016. To his credit Fletcher has continued to score goals, he scored 13 in the 2019/20 Championship campaign. In 2020 he signed for another team in red and white, Stoke City.
Bridcutt’s performance at Southampton was disastrous. He came on in the 45th minute and had a half to forget. Scoring an own goal and being booked Bridcutt was extremely poor. He left the club on loan in November 2015, signing for Leeds. Bridcutt joined Leeds permanently in 2016. He has played for Nottingham Forest and Bolton. He currently plays for Lincoln City and will most likely be facing Sunderland in the 2020/21 campaign.
At this point in his Sunderland career Rodwell still had the world at his feet. He came on in the 60th minute when the game was only 3-0. Considering the game finished 8-0 its clear to see that Rodwell helped steady the ship that afternoon. Rodwell made a total of 76 appearances for Sunderland. When combining fee and salary he cost £299,000 per appearance. Rodwell finally agreed to rip up his contract in 2018 and left the club. He has since went onto play for Blackburn Rovers and currently plays for Premier League side Sheffield United
The less said about Adam Johnson the better.
Overall the performance from Sunderland that day was an embarrassment to the travelling fans and to the club itself. However life comes at you fast, Southampton was on the receiving end of a thrashing in October 2019 when they were beaten 9-0 at home by Leicester City.