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A Look At "The Angeleri Effect"

Aka "The Afonso Alves Effect", whereby one player is held up as the ultimate negative example for all Argentinians or Eredivisie strikers. Hopefully this summer will be the last we hear of either.

Jamie McDonald

On the 8th January 2011, Sunderland were comfortably beaten at home by Notts County of League One. A crowd of 17,582 witnessed an ignominious 2-1 defeat for the Black Cats. Sunderland losing in the early rounds of the cup, even to this level of opposition, was not particularly remarkable; Marcos Angeleri appearing at right back was.

His performance was so utterly abject, it bordered on the hilarious. He looked like a man who had never seen a football before, let alone kicked one. That appearance, if you were (un)lucky enough to witness it, was the beginning of the end for the Argentinian, who would eventually head back to Estudiantes after making just three appearances in three years.

This singularly awful performance and his general absence from the Sunderland squad resulted in Angeleri leaving a unique mark on the club. Thanks to him, even the most tenuous link to one of his countrymen brings out large swathes of supporters in cold sweats. Simply put, it is "The Angeleri Effect".

This summer has seen Sunderland linked with not one, but two Argentinians. Scarily, like Angeleri, they are full backs and, even more terrifyingly, one of them is a right back. From the moment Lucas Orban and more recently Gino Peruzzi were linked with moves to the North East of England, supporters fearfully confronted the idea of two new Angeleris to cope with.

In reality, to dismiss them as such is a blinkered way of viewing the situation. Angeleri, like any player from any country, was an individual with a unique set of circumstances. Whether he failed to settle, did not work well with Steve Bruce or had not properly recovered from injury - in reality it was probably a combination of all these things and more - it has no impact on whether Peruzzi or Orban would be a success here. To suggest it would is to ignore their qualities, reputations and to dismiss the work of the club's scouts.

Another way of looking at it would be to ask yourself, if Sunderland were associated with the potential signing of an exciting young English right back, would Greg Halford immediately spring to mind?

Halford was extremely highly rated when he signed for Sunderland. He turned out to be an abject failure at the Stadium of Light and yet when an English full back is linked to the club there is no rush to condemn the potential signing as another Halford. Indeed, when he signed it is a surprise he was not instantly labelled the next Gareth Hall, given that they were both born on English soil.

There are other examples to back up the argument of failure of course - the perennially missing Cristian Riveros who hails from Paraguay, his countryman Paolo Da Silva and Nicolas Medina before them - but what of the fondly remembered Julio Arca? He was, and still is, loved on Wearside but when Peruzzi and Orban were linked, there were few expressing hopes that either would emulate Julio as a Sunderland player.

Anyone concerned with the idea of Argentinians lining up at full back in red and white next season could do worse than looking at one of the best right backs in the league for solace. Pablo Zabaleta's nationality has not held him back in his time with Manchester City, where he has picked up silverware and been among their most consistent players.

Although Angeleri is unique to Sunderland, he is not the first player to incite this sort of feeling amongst football supporters. He follows in the footsteps of Afonso Alves, who is of course the standard bearer for every Eredivisie striker - ever.

Alves was a massive flop for Middlesbrough, there is no disputing that. He cost a huge sum of money after impressing for Heerenveen, scoring more regularly than one goal per game. He failed to repeat anything like that on Teesside.

As soon as Sunderland were linked to the likes of Jozy Altidore and John Guidetti, it was obvious Alves' name would get a mention given that both have been most impressive during their time in the Dutch league.

Comparing every striker to Alves simply because they have scored goals in the Eredivisie is as ludicrous as the concern that every Argentinian signed directly from their homeland is going to be the new Angeleri.

There are excellent strikers playing in the Premier League now who made their name in Dutch football. Would supporters turn their noses up at the prospect of signing the next Robin van Persie or Luis Suarez? If Sunderland had made a move for Suarez while he was at Ajax, there would surely have been a heart attack epidemic on Wearside what him being the ultimate marriage between South America and Eredivisie.

That would ignore the fact that Suarez is a world class player but he had his doubters when he swapped the Netherlands for Liverpool. He is proof that if a player has the talent, they will succeed wherever they are, just as fellow Ajax graduate Zlatan Ibrahimovic has done.

At one time, Suarez and Ibrahimovic were relatively unknown to the majority of the football world, but they were scouted properly and signed by clubs confident in their ability to continue developing. Sunderland tend to do things the other way and suffer for it. Last summer the club looked at Argentinian forward Facundo "Chucky" Ferreyra but instead of following through on the interest, Martin O'Neill decided to bring Louis Saha to the club. Evidence, if it were needed, that taking the safe, experienced option is often worse than delving into the unknown.

Ellis Short will have learned more from that mistake than from the error Steve Bruce made in bringing Marcos Angeleri to the club. "The Saha Effect" - signing past it, experienced Premier League players - has surely superseded "The Angeleri Effect". Sunderland's scouting and recruitment teams will spend the summer ensuring that the latter is put to rest for good.

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