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Rolling Back The Years: What A Team We Would Have Been in 2009

Has-beens, journey men and misfits; if it wasn't ludicrous you could be forgiven for thinking it was an actual recruitment policy at Sunderland. But, stop for a minute and imagine what this crop of players might have achieved had it been 2009.

England U21 v Germany U21 - UEFA U21 Championship Final Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images

Enough of that, let's glory in the millions wasted on transfer fees and wages paid out to a succession of journey-men, has-beens and misfits for a moment. If it wasn't tragic it would almost be funny.

But, those has-beens, journey-men and misfits have not all always been so. Imagine what this side could achieve, just for a moment, if this was 2009. What a team this would be.....


Jermain Defoe: Age 27, Tottenham Hotspur & England International

Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

2009 was a good year for Jermain Defoe. He rejoined Spurs from Portsmouth for his second spell at White Hart Lane for a fee of £15.75m.

In his first few weeks he had fired Tottenham into a League Cup final, though injury would prevent him from appearing at Wembley. He was named Player of the Month in August and scored three hat-tricks in the 09-10 season in which he scored 24 goals, the most prolific of his career.

Defoe made six appearances for England in 2009 and hit five goals. He capped a man of the match performance with two strikes against the Netherlands in a 2-2 draw under Fabio Capello.


Steven Pienaar: Age 27, Everton & South Africa International

Sunderland v Everton - Premier League Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Steven Pienaar was named Everton's Player of The Season in 2009-10 and South African Player of The Year in 2009. The Johannesburg-born international made 30 appearances for the Goodison outfit, scoring 7 goals in what was his third campaign under David Moyes.

Pienaar scored Everton's first in a 2-0 victory against a struggling Sunderland side at the Stadium of Light in May 2009. Ricky Sbragia's side would limp to survival in a dismal run-in of one win in the final thirteen games. Sbragia would resign three weeks later as the final whistle of the season blew.


John O'Shea, Aged 28, Manchester United & Republic of Ireland International

Manchester United v Arsenal - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

John O'Shea established himself as a regular in the Manchester United team during 2009. He won a League Cup winners' medal and scored in the first leg of a Champions League semi-final against Arsenal, only to feature in the losing side in the final against Barcelona.

The Republic of Ireland international celebrated a decade at Old Trafford during this year and on Aprils Fool Day, two minutes into a World Cup qualification match, an elbow to his head would see Giampaolo Pazzini earn the record for the fastest sending off in Italian footballing history.


Sebastian Larsson, Aged 24, Birmingham City & Sweden International

Birmingham City v Portsmouth - Premier League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Sebastian Larsson aided Birmingham to promotion to the Premier League during 2009 in a season in which Kevin Phillips was top scorer for the Brummie side. Larsson would play 33 top flight games during 2009-10 and score four goals for Alex McLeish's side.

Larsson was at the peak of his dead-ball prowess in this year, and would curl a free kick off the chest of Liam Ridgewell to defeat Steve Bruce's Sunderland side in the October.

Fresh from an appearance at Euro2008, Larsson made ten appearances for the Swedish national side in the final year of the noughties.


Jack Rodwell, Aged 18, Everton & England Under-21 International

Everton v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Jack Rodwell was a hot young thing in 2009 at Everton. He scored his first senior goal in the FA Cup and celebrated his achievements in the 09-10 season with a new five-year deal under David Moyes.

Rodwell starred in a Europa League campaign, scoring two goals in a clash with Sigma Olomouc of the Czech Republic to enhance his growing reputation. After the match, Moyes would say "Jack has great potential and hopefully he will go on to fulfill it". Deployed more and more in an attacking position, Rodwell would score four goals in twenty-six Premier League appearances.

An England Under-21 regular, he would aid the Young Lions in reaching the U21 Euros final alongside such luminaries as Adam Johnson and Lee Cattermole.


The Rest

And there the quality probably ends, but imagine a Sunderland squad with those four players in their absolute prime. Instead we have a still hot Jermain Defoe, albeit in the twilight of his career at 34; Steven Pienaar is the same age and though he retains a certain class his legs look a bit wobbly as games progress; John O'Shea is 35 and only Sunderland's inability to replace him sees him retaining a place in the side; and as for Jack Rodwell - what the heck happened there.

As for the rest, it was 2009 when Victor Anichebe was hacked down by Newcastle's Kevin Nolan. The Nigerian striker would later sue for loss of earnings with the case settled out of court. Anichebe had been named Everton's Young Player of the Season two years previous and he established himself in David Moyes' senior squad during 2008-9 when Yakubu and Louis Saha were ruled out with long-term injuries.

Patrick van Aanholt was on loan from Chelsea at Coventry as a 19-year old. Fabio Borini graduated to become first choice striker for the reserve team at Stamford Bridge and Jan Kirchhoff was starring for the German Under-21 side as a hot prospect at Mainz.

Goalkeeper Vito Mannone made his first team debut for Arsenal in the 2008-9 season and Jordan Pickford was fifteen.

Back to 2016.....