Continuing on from yesterdays news from the Niall Quinn Roadshow, today we continue with both he and CEO Steve Walton's views on SAFC players and management past, present and perhaps even future.
Quinn and Co started however, by dishing up some praise on former manager and current Head of Scouting, Ricky Sbragia. Ricky has recieved a hell of a lot of put downs during his tenure at SAFC in various capacities, but Niall had nothing but praise for the Scotsman.
Sbragia was the man entrusted by Quinn to lay the ground work for Bruce to revive the squad. Roy Keane as you may have guessed was not a man to be messed with, nor a man who would listen to others advice. Quinn asked Keane to play "Bad apples" El-Hadji Diouf and Pascal Chimbonda in a cup game, Keane said no. Sbragia however said yes, to put them in the shop window. It worked. Just little moves like this, which seem so innocuous saved the club millions, allowing Bruce to splash the cash when he took over.
Story continues...Speaking about the appointment of Steve Bruce, and why he was even chosen, Steve Walton & Niall Quinn went into great detail about Brucey.
Now you might know this, but I didn't: Steve Walton was at Liverpool during the times they appointed Gerard Houllier & Rafa Benitez, and he watched the club transform from a French one to a Spanish one. When it came to choosing a new manager, both he and Quinny felt that appointing a foreign manager would have been too much of a risk with the club in such a fragile state.
Steve Bruce became the obvious candidate from day one. His links to the region, even if they are predominantly to the dark side, were a major influence on the decision. Much is said and written about the passion of the fans in the area, and is often dismissed by those who have never lived it. Steve Bruce was uniquely positioned as knowing the area, knowing the fans and wouldn't hide in the face of criticism or under hostile circumstances.
I think we can agree that Bruce has done exactly that. He's one of the more honest managers in the league, he tells it how it is the majority of the time without having to resort to Holloway-esque soundbites.
Another thing about Brucey was the contacts he would bring to the club. Quinn admitted that he and Keane between them knew very little about scouting and the network we employed under the pair was non-existent. While we can argue the success of the likes of Cristian Riveros & Paulo Da Silva, they worked out a hell of a lot better than say Rade Prica & William Mocquet. Quinn has told Bruce and his scouting network that the challenge is "To find stars before the world knows they exist."
There's hope that this is already happening, with the youth team featuring Spaniards and Australians in addition to the signing of players few had heard of in Europe.
When it comes to playing staff, here's what Quinn & Walton had to say about a few familiar names.
Explaining the sale of Darren Bent to Aston Villa. Quinn revealed that Villa had approached SAFC at the start of January, and were dismissed without question. Aston Villa made another approach on the eve of the Wear-Tyne Derby, and as we all know, a transfer request was handed in minutes after the final whistle. Quinn and Walton went back to Villa and said "Make us an offer" and Villa obliged. Quinn said of Bent that his demeanour and personality had diminished to the point that there was no point in even keeping him around to warm the bench for the rest of the season.
As for some players who will be staying, the main subject of which was Jordan Henderson, who has been the target of an incredible amount of media speculation.
The club have no intentions of selling Henderson, nor will they invite bids. Even if say Manchester United wished to engineer a swap deal with Danny Welbeck, they are simply not interested.
They also praised the maturity of Henderson, saying they "trust him entirely" not to engineer a move, or in a side swipe to Bent, "Hide away in a Birmingham hotel room."
Quinn revealed much more praise too for Henderson, in saying he is learning all the time form players such as Bolo Zenden. An example of which came the day after the recent Wear-Tyne Derby. The players were given the day off, however Henderson & Zenden both went to the Academy of Light to train privately.
Zenden drew a huge amount of praise too for exactly for situations like this. Quinn lavished praise on the aging Dutchman which hints that he will extend his stay on Wearside, and once he hangs up his boots they should find a place in the backroom staff for him should he want it. His professionalism & work ethic is the standard for all young players at the club who wish to take the next step.
As for two protracted January transfers, Quinn & Walton also spoke of the mechanics of the Muntari & Sessegnon deals.
With regards to Muntari, the deal took so long as all foreign loans require a clause to buy at any moment. SAFC now have this in place if they want to keep the Ghanaian on the books, they can at the push of a button.
Quinn praised Muntari saying he has shown the desire to return to the Premier League, but they wanted to see that hunger close-up before making anything permanent. Consider this time to be Sulley's audition for a position at SAFC.
Stephane Sessegnon was a different kettle of fish all together. Bruce had been tracking him for a long, long time and the deal only dragged because of PSG. The player had so much desire to come to SAFC, despite interest from Everton & Aston Villa, Sessegnon bought into the SAFC dream 110%.
It was the Benin international himself who pushed the deal through, saying he wanted to be an SAFC player so much he took a substantial pay-cut to join, and make the process swift.
On the future of young Danny Welbeck, Quinn basically said the ball is in United's court. We want him, we really do, but we've no idea at this moment in time whether Manchester United want to keep him. We will have to see their dealings in the summer, and if they can't find a spot for Welbeck, we will be at the head of the queue to sign him.
Quinn also said that Welbeck is exactly the type of character that SAFC are looking for, he brought a huge lift to the club on his return to training, and even intimated that the club is getting under Welbeck's skin. Welbeck apparently "couldn't wait to get back to Sunderland" whilst recovering from injury, and "missed the place" whilst away.
New contracts for Steed Malbranque & Craig Gordon are on the cards, Quinn said the have been in touch with the pair's agents but insisted that there is "no need to rush."
Tomorrow we'll continue with more from the SNQ Roadshow, including Quinn's vision for the future, his desire to change the outward perception of the club, and a whole lot of financial stuff explained by Walton, and what Ellis short thinks of our current bank balance.
Keep it Roker Report!