Its safe to say that it hasn't exactly been the start to the new season that we had all expected. All hope and expectation garnered during the off season thanks to a number of decent signings has all but evaporated as we seem to be shaping up as a side desperately lacking a cutting edge in the final third. Then the cherry on top of the cake if you will came in the form of "Gyan-gate", leaving us with even less options. Who knows what we would have done had we not brought the big Dane in.
I don't want to dwell on the Gyan situation too long as I'm sure plenty of space will be afforded to his move here on Roker Report and will be put to bed on Thursday's Podcast as we have a very special guest lined up in the shape of African football guru @garyalsmith.
So after that weekend of doom and gloom I thought I would try and lighten the mood with this week's Top Ten and have a look at my favourite SAFC goals at the Stadium of Light.
10. Andy Reid vs West Ham - 2008
Let's kick things off with a goal that went a long way to securing SAFC's Premier League status in the 2007/08 season. Nerves were already somewhat frayed going into the game and were not helped when Freddie Ljungberg put the visitors ahead with less than 20 minutes on the clock. This seemed to finally breathe some life into Sunderland and 10 minutes later we were level through Jones. The game looked destined to end in a disappointing draw as the home side were unable to capitalise on a number of good chances, Murphy being particularly wasteful. However, deep, deep, deep into injury time Carlos Edwards threw one last cross into the box which Anton Ferdinand was unable to clear and the ball dropped onto the left boot of Mr. Reid. Cue bedlam.
9. Niall Quinn vs Port Vale 1998
Whilst Niall is remembered by the majority of the footballing world for his prowess in the air, Sunderland fans are well aware of what the big fella was capable of with the ball at his feet and no goal showcased that talent more than this sensational lob. Quinn chased a hopeful ball down the right flank and upon collecting the ball began to head straight for goal. With the keeper advancing to narrow the angle Quinn knew had no need to engage his opponent in a one-on-one situation and effortlessly lifted the ball over his head before wheeling away, arms aloft, before the ball had even hit the back of the net.
8. Bolo Zenden vs Spurs 2010
In a rollercoaster of a game Darren Bent managed to score twice against his former employers and then obviously felt a bit guilty and tried to make amends by missing two penalties. The human bean pole and former long-term SAFC target Peter Crouch was to give the visitors hope before Zenden put the game beyond doubt. Campbell and Henderson worked the ball well on the right before the local lad hung up a trademark cross to the back post which the Dutchman met with a stunning flying volley. Perfect.
7. Sean Thornton vs Chelsea 2003
Sean is a lad I have covered here on Roker Report as part of the Cult Heroes section, so feel free to refresh your memory of the peroxide blonde midfielder here. The goal itself came against Champions League chasing Chelsea. Sunderland started the game well and were not afraid to take the game to their high flying opposition and fully deserved their early lead and what a strike it was to give the home side the advantage. The goal itself came as Thornton capitalised on a weak headed clearance from Frank Lampard, controlled the ball on his chest, allowed it to bounce before rifling in a right footed dipping half-volley past a helpless Cudicini.
6. Darren Bent vs Liverpool 2009
A goal that will live on in footballing infamy for many years to come. Whilst the majority of the goals that make up this list are clean strikes that left the goalkeeper with no chance of stopping, Bent's strike couldn't be further away from that. In fact had it not been for a stray inflatable that had been thrown onto the pitch from the travelling fans behind the goal Pepe Reina would surely have thrown his cap on the shot and the game would have continued. However the balls were to collide (ooer), Reina went one way and the matchball went the other - into the back of the net and Mike Jones, the referee, allowed the goal to stand.
5. Grant Leadbitter vs Arsenal 2008
It is hard even try and put into words the emotions that were evidently running through the local lad's head when he thrashed a thirty yard rocket into the back of the Arsenal net. Not only was it his first goal of the season, it was also his first goal since his father had suddenly passed away that summer. As the net struggled to hold Leadbitter's shot the midfielder sprinted to the halfway line to kiss the patch of grass where his father's ashes were buried. A poignant and fitting tribute.
4. Daryl Murphy vs Wigan 2008
Like a large number of SAFC fans I'd imagine I was not Daryl's biggest fan but there are times when you have to put such opinions of a footballer to one side and appreciate something special. This goal was special. This was a classic example of counter attacking football at its best as Sunderland worked the ball down the left wing to Andy Reid who split the Wigan defense with a superbly weighted pass into the path of a marauding Murphy on the right wing. The striker then cut in on to his left foot and from fully thirty yards out let fly with a stunning strike.
3. Carlos Edwards vs Burnley 2007
What a night this was! A five goal thriller that also produced three penalties and a goal worthy of winning any match as Sunderland edged closer to returning to the Premier League. Much like Murphy's goal at number 4, Edwards' goal came from some fast paced counter attacking football and it was Murphy himself that laid the ball off to the winger on the right hand side and the "Rolls Royce" duly obliged by arrowing in an unstoppable drive into the top left hand corner. Magic!
2. Kieran Richardson vs Newcastle 2008
This easily could have made it to my number one slot given it's importance of earning SAFC their first win over the old enemy at home in my lifetime and it wasn't a bad strike either! The move began as Diouf worked the ball with Malbranque and was felled on the edge of the area, the majority of the home fans felt aggrieved that a spot kick was not awarded. Richardson however was not worried. Despite it seemingly taking an eternity for the referee to march the Newcastle wall back the full ten yards Kieran remained the calmest man in the ground. Not for long however as he wrapped his left boot around the ball with such venom that Given never even saw it. The celebrations that followed were out of this world.
1. Kevin Phillips vs Chelsea 1999
Whilst Kieran's Derby Day heroics were good, this goal is one that I will never forget and if I close my eyes I can replay the little striker's half volley frame by frame. This is probably my favourite Sunderland game of all time as well, so Kevin was always in with a shout of taking my top spot here! SAFC were sensational that day and incredibly lead 4-0 by half time with two goals apiece for the little and large strike force, but Phillips' first was the pick of the bunch. Ever the opportunist Phillips pounced on a loose ball, 25 yards or more from goal and let fly with a dipping and swerving volley that flew past De Goey. For me a picture perfect goal that summed up everything that the legendary forward is all about.
So what do you think? Please vote for your favourite of the ten in the below poll or put forward your suggestion in the comments box.