Player Of The Last Ten Years Poll, Round One: Dean Whitehead Vs Danny Welbeck

Ross Kinnaird

A clash of the W's as Dean Whitehead goes head to head with Danny Welbeck in today's poll. Both were used in numerous positions and both after some time eventually won fans over. But who will go through? Only you can decide...

Dean Whitehead

So we finally move on to our former Captain Marvel. Wicked Whitehead. Deano. Of course I'm being sarcy, but in fact, Dean Whitehead was pretty damn good for Sunderland. I'm not sure if his not so glamorous contribution for everyone's least favourite side, Stoke City, has allowed people's memory of Dean to become clouded a little, and their appreciation of him to be residing at a much lower scale than it should be as a result. But actually Dean's contribution to Stoke means he's had a good, solid seven years worth of being an established and comfortable looking Premier League player. To put that into context, he's bettered most of the Sunderland central midfielders I have witnessed in the last ten years.

Whitehead joined Mick McCarthy's young looking side in 2004 and impressed immediately. He was named players' player of the year as the Black Cats won the title that campaign, unaware of the disaster that was awaiting them the subsequent season. It's to Whitehead's credit that he was constantly linked with a move away from Wearside during that horrific 05/06 campaign, newly promoted Reading even had a bid turned down for him at its conclusion. That ANY player emerged from that season with interest is a testamant to their abillity indeed. Yet, he was one of a tiny handful of players who did emerge with credit that year, and when Roy Keane threw his support behind him the following season, reflected by his constant praising of him in public, he became the driving force behind the midfield that secured our second Championship title in three years. He then featured heavily in the next two Premier League offerings and showed his all round ability by covering as a right back credibly when asked.

The fact that Whitehead survived the axe from the revolution that the Keane and Quinn era brought crashing down on The Stadium of Light, is an undoubted indication of his positive contribution in the red and white of Sunderland. As the majority of players from that generation filtered their way down the leagues, Whitehead nabbed that previously mentioned move to another Premier League side. People make sniggering remarks about the £5 million fee when mentioned now, but as my memory argues, less so at the time. During his five year stay here, support was always strong for Whitehead in the stands and there aren't many who have rivalled his contribution in recent years when we think of players being here for lengthy amounts of time.

Will he win this? No. But Dean Whitehead does not deserve to go out in the first round and ranked amongst the also rans in this competition. Far from it.

Danny Welbeck

Danny Welbeck’s time on Wearside was fleeting, but came at a time when Sunderland had one of its strongest attacking groups in recent memory.

A loan signing initially greeted by bemusement that our own youngster, Martyn Waghorn, was not given a first-team chance, Welbeck would go on to treble his top-flight appearances to date – chipping in with six goals.

The loanee proved handy during the autumn-winter months. In fact, all of Welbeck’s goals came between November and January – with him going on a three-game scoring run against Chelsea, Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers, which produced four goals. Injury scuppered another run as, after scoring against Blackburn Rovers, a hamstring problem suffered against Aston Villa would leave Sunderland light in attack following Darren Bent’s defection to the same club.

Upon his return he showed similar close control and penetration from a left-sided attacking position, but was again curtailed by injury in the must-win game against Wigan Athletic. All-in-all, Welbeck filled a need, and will be remembered best for his performance in the 3-0 win at Chelsea.

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Be sure to make your vote count and send one of these two through to the next round. Make your voice heard below, because you only have until 11pm (GMT) tonight to get your vote in...

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