Eight contestants with twelve picks each - finally, after a week locked in the war room at Roker Report HQ our writers are here today to present to you their team of hopeless bastards, all of whom have represented Sunderland at one point or another.
Manager: Mick McCarthy
Team: Oscar Ustari, Andrea Dossena, Titus Bramble, Carlos Cuellar, Will Buckley, Graham Kavanagh, Cristian Riveros, John Oster, Roy O'Donovan, Andy Cole, Jon Stead.
Captain: The inspirationally useless Titus Bramble
Tactics: Tiki Taka (minus passing ability or movement)
While my team may have excluded some truly awful players from this history of SAFC, I feel it encapsulates the disgraceful lack of transfer strategy we've witnessed over the past two decades. Including a mix of has-beens, never-was-es and obvious panic buys, this squad reflects Sunderland's worst from the modern era.
Their complete lack of ability to play the tactics I have assigned them would provide great amusement to anyone not of a Sunderland persuasion, although it wouldn't be the first time we've seen a Sunderland team attempt to play a style of football they were unsuited to (*cough Poyet cough*).
In addition, this bunch of no-hopers managed by Big Mick would surely have surpassed the awfulness of the fifteen-point season and might well have ensured a return to the years of being a yo-yo club. Also in favour of my team of Inglorious Bastards is the massive amount of wages and transfer fees that were utterly wasted on them - everybody loves to see their hard-earned ticket money going on blokes who have cunningly disguised themselves as professional football players.
Manager: Len Ashurst
Team: Sheamus McDonagh, Tommy Lynch, Ian Sampson, Baki Mercimek, Bernt Haas, Roly Gregoire, Cabral, Jeff Whitley, Iain Rodgerson, Lilian Laslandes, Danny Graham.
Captain: Danny Graham
Tactics: Tiki Taka - possession based football played with high intensity and pressing. (Can't. Keep. Straight. Face)
Assembled before you for your delectation and consideration is a staggeringly awful Sunderland team of truly epic proportions.
Imagine, if you can, paying money from your own pocket, earned from working long and arduous hours all week then arriving to the ground on a wintry cold Saturday to be presented with THOSE names on the team sheet.
It's an eleven the likes of which Hammer Horror would have been proud of. It has zero pace, hardly a goal from anywhere. Please bare in mind the strikers have one deflected goal between them for a combined fee of around nine million pounds and fifty appearances. My goalkeeper let in seventeen goals during only eight games and was as athletic as an obese corpse.
There are a number of players in this side that were so bad their contracts were simply terminated by the club. There are even those so shockingly abysmal and/or catastrophically poor they were hardly deemed worthy even by the managers that signed them. The spine of the side is as weak and well, spine-less, as you'll ever have the misfortune to bare witness to.
If you want to talk about a back four then I'd assert this one is just the ticket. Obviously if leaking goals is your aim. Which of course it is!
Now, if that isn't enough, just try and conjure the image of those individuals playing tiki-taka football. A style of play that involves possession of the ball and high fast pressing. Can you picture the scene? I rest my case.
Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Sunderland's worst eleven ever assembled.
Manager: Howard Wilkinson
Team: Michael Ingham, Lewin Nyatanga, Neill Collins, Ben Clark, Nyron Nosworthy, Christian Bassila, Andy Welsh, Simon Johnson, Carsten Fredgaard, Chris Brown, Ryan Noble.
Formation: 4-1-3-2 (Diamond)
Captain: Neill Collins
Tactics: Defensive, long ball to target man
Just look at the defence - Ben Clark and Neill Collins as my centre backs. Any speedy forwards would have a field day going against those two. My full backs are atrocious going forward. If you can remember Nos at the full back and not pass out with horror, you’ll remember his nose bleeds when he crossed the halfway line. My attackers are not only too weak to impose themselves onto a game, if they are lucky enough to find themselves in an exciting position the chances of them finding the killer pass to the lethal striking pair of Brown and Noble is extremely low.
And hey, if they do, my bet is on Brown hitting the corner flag with his shot. So basically, all in all, my team is bar far the shittest team that the world has ever seen.
Manager: Lawrie McMenemy
Team: Iain Hesford, Ian Harte, Steve Berry, David Corner, Marcos Angeleri, Paul Lemon, Arnau, Gerry Harrison, Rade Prica, Thomas Hauser, Milton Nunez.
Captain: Milton Nunez - his lack of character and inability to speak English should come in handy
Tactics: Kick the ball out of play often and score as many own goals as you can
I'll give credit to my comrades - they've all done a fine job of creating their sides. In truth, it's going to be difficult to call a winner. That said, you should vote for me, though, and here is why.
Iain Hesford was our goalkeeper when we dropped into the third division. David Corner cost us the goal that lost us the League Cup final in 1985.
Paul Lemon is arguably our worst ever midfielder, and racked up over one hundred first team appearances. He's paired with Arnau - a man that dropped into amateur Spanish football upon leaving us - and Gerry Harrison, who we signed and played in actual games despite not knowing he had the liver disease Hepatitis. Try not to cry thinking of the utter horror that would occur if we had ever lined up with a midfield three containing that bunch.
Milton Nunez is the worst transfer ever conducted by this football club - he was so bad that we tried, and failed, to recoup the seven figure sum that we paid to get him.
Steve Berry - if you don't remember just how bad he was, google his name. You'll find countless pages over on ReadyToGo from Sunderland fans that regard Berry as the worst player we've ever had.
Thomas Hauser is a player still laughed at for his lack of ability many years later, often referred to as our worst ever centre forward.
Rade Prica - an international footballer that played in the Champions League, Ian Harte - an international footballer that played in the Champions League, Marcos Angeleri - an Argentina international.... these are players that came to Sunderland with a modicum of pedigree, and were absolutely appalling.
Add to that the fact I've got the worst manager Sunderland have ever had, Lawrie McMenemy - A MAN WHO WAS THE BEST PAID MANAGER IN ENGLAND AND TOOK SUNDERLAND TO THE THIRD DIVISION FOR THE FIRST TIME IN OUR HISTORY, and I defy you to vote for anyone else.
It literally does not get any worse, and don't let any of these other chancers convince you otherwise.
Manager: Martin O’Neill
Team: Lionel Perez, Wayne Bridge, Kenny Cunningham, Calum Davenport, Russell Anderson, Mark Lynch, Thomas Butler, Anton Ferdinand, Paul Thirlwell, David Healy, Ji Dong Won.
Captain: Thomas Butler - who better than a player who doesn't care?
Tactics: The Martin O'Neill way - Sit very deep, soak up pressure and counter attack
In goal, a man who guarantees he will cost you over the course of a season. Three centre backs, two woefully out of their depth in English football and prone to serious errors, with the other an ageing lumbering burden with no pace or organisation skills. Tasked with providing the teams width, a right back terrified of attacking and incapable of defending and a left back so disinterested he won’t defend and so unfit that he can’t attack.
In midfield, two uninspiring players possessing no ability to keep the ball or pick passes, as the game passes them by. Alongside them, an injury prone, heartless insignificance out of love with the game, completing a midfield offering no composure, goals or creative ability. Up front, a player terrified of crosses, incapable of holding the ball up or using it intelligently no matter the level of opposition. Alongside him, a player who cannot create anything for himself, who cannot offer an option down the channels as he’s too slow to chase the ball and too weak to hold it up.
Do you remember watching Martin O’Neill’s tactics? Imagine this team trying to defend as a unit and soak up pressure. The error prone nature of the defence, the vacant nature of the midfield and several players who simply do not care, all tasked with delivering a united and resolute defensive performance. Then imagine counter attacking with these players with none of the necessary attributes - no pace, movement, strength, composure, quality or desire. We'd haemorrhage goals and never get out our own half. O’Neill’s philosophy offers a final and deadly blow, as there would never be changes to tactics or personnel, meaning this team and style of play would be what you’d get for 90 minutes, week in, week out, all season.
All things considered, this is football hell. And you know it.
Manager: Mick Buxton
Team: Ben Alnwick, Clive Clarke, Phil Babb, Alan Stubbs, Gareth Hall, Kevin Kilbane, Tommy Miller, Shaun Cunnington, Tony Cullen, Paul Stewart, Benjani.
Formation: 4-3-2 (4-4-2 if you're recognising Tommy Miller's corporeality)
Captain: Alan Stubbs
Tactics: Don't defend, don't run, don't move, full backs kick it out of play.
It's easy to pick bairns and back-ups, and most of my colleagues have indeed done just that. I wanted there to be no excuses in my team, though. I wanted senior players and big-money signings who were just absolutely awful.
In fact, there are 190 full international caps in my team, an England under-21 international, an England B international, as well as someone so irrelevant, Tony Cullen, he doesn't even have his own Wikipedia page.
There is no mobility, no pace and, given it is captained by a player who openly celebrates when his Sunderland defence concede costly last-minute goals, it's fair to expect zero fight as well. Even the central midfield only actually exists on paper. There is just a little sprinkling of disgraces of conduct too. It's a complete side, rich in both fundamental lack of talent and resplendent in its lack of heart.
It's also managed by Mick Buxton, who once took a £600,000 investment of someone else's money - and it was 66% of our record transfer fee at that time - and spunked it on Brett Angell.
I feel I have all the bases covered. This is a side without excuses or redeeming features. It's a side that not only were atrocious but cost the club some very real sums of money. It makes me feel sick to the stomach just looking at it.
Manager: Ricky Sbragia
Team: Kelvin Davis, Dan Smith, Steve Hetzke, Jan Eriksson, Tal Ben Haim, Brian Mooney, Nicolas Medina, Chris Byrne, James McFadden, Brett Angell, Andy Gray.
Captain: Nicolas Medina
I want my team to knock it around with style and substance, dominate games and create plenty of chances. However, I have chosen eleven people - I won't use the terms footballers or players for this shower - that would struggle to play hoofball and a manager who doesn't even want to be in charge. I have two immobile strikers, who cannot score or control the ball, my captain could well be killed by his midfield partner, a defence that will leak at least seven per game - and may crock a similar number of Arsenal players and wingers who won't create a single chance.
I have chosen a team to take back what is rightfully ours, the lowest points in a season record that Derby were rude enough to take away from us. That is ours and my team will get it back, regardless of which division we are in.
Manager: Terry Butcher
Team: Bob Bolder, Pascal Chimbonda, Paul McShane, Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Greg Halford, Martin Woods, El Hadji Diouf, Sean Thorton, Anthony Le Tallec, Tore Andre Flo, Jozy Altidore.
Formation: 4-4-2 Diamond
Captain: El Hadji Diouf - The worst example of a captain for the worst example of a team
Tactics: Try and stun oppositions forwards into fits of laughter as they realise how hilarious McShane and Kyrgiakos look next to each other. Get Martin Woods to provide a running commentary on all games. Tell Diouf to just fight whoever he wants. Explain to Chimbonda the benefits of running. Explain the concept of a goal to Jozy Altidore. Remind Sean Thornton that being sick on the pitch due to a hangover is not something that is expected outside of the Sunday league and "kebabs" were not on his diet sheet. Locate Tore Andre Flo's heart as he doesn't appear to have one. Note to the manager - shaving your head and telling the players that they're marines going into the battle is a great idea and will DEFINITELY get them fired up for a local derby.
Look at my strike 'force' - combined transfer fees of around £15 million and they have less than ten Premier League goals between them, despite a heavy amount of international caps.
My side is managed by an absolute nutter who will have daily fights with Diouf and will get so angry at Chimbonda's laziness that he'll make make him deaf. My centre halves are renowned in Sunderland folklore for looking hilarious and having a playing style to match - Paul McShane ran like a Jack Russell, and Kyrgiakos just couldn't run to start with. Greg Halford would either get sent off or just play like he may as well not be there.
All the opposition would need to do to distract Sean Thornton, would be to remind him that there's pies somewhere in the stadium. So irrelevantly shite are Le Tallec and Woods, you could put cardboard cut outs in their place and no one would notice.
Could you put your faith in a goalkeeper with a name like Bob Bolder?
This is a true rag tag bunch and not even the good kind, the one that may have a bit of team spirit. No, these are all awful for a variety of different reasons, with no redeeming features. A season with fifteen points would flatter this lot.
There is no one in this team you could even give the benefit of the doubt to and say - 'ah well, they weren't great but they did a job for us.'
This is the worst Sunderland side on the list. This is the one that will give you the worst nightmares. This is the one you will vote for.
The time has come to vote - the poll is directly below.