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"I should have got the CEO job at Sunderland!" Roker Report meets... Chris Turner! (Part two)

Yesterday we brought you part one of our chat with Black Cats' cult hero Chris Turner, in which he spoke about the early part of his Sunderland career. Today, Chris takes us through his memories of the run to the League Cup Final in 1985, playing for Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, his thoughts on Jordan Pickford and why he never got the job of CEO at the Stadium of Light last year.

Hartlepool United v Sheffield United - Carling Cup Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

RR: Another highlight from your time at the club was undoubtedly the League Cup run and pathway to the final in 84/85. There was a particular game away to Spurs where nothing seemed to get past you after Graham Roberts early penalty. What are you memories of that game and the cup run?

CT: Actually, my better game was the home tie against Tottenham Hotspur. It was 0-0 at Roker Park yet Spurs dominated the game from start to finish. I had one of them games - everything they hit, I managed to save.

The second game at White Hart Lane, we were losing until late on and we scored two goals in the last twenty, then Graham Roberts got a penalty and I managed to save it. I suppose people remember it more for that, but the home game was my stand out performance in that run really.

RR: We lost 1-0 to Norwich in the final at Wembley. How was the run up to the game and how disappointing was it that we went home empty handed?

CT: Yeah, it was a disappointing result, but one we should have at least drawn in the 90 minutes. Clive Walker hit the post from a penalty, the winning goal was deflected - all that sort of stuff.

All the games in the run up to the final were tough, tough games. Crystal Palace away, Nottingham Forest, then Spurs, Chelsea, West Ham - then we got Norwich.

We had played them a week beforehand and beat them 3-1 at Carrow Road, then got to Wembley and lost - that’s football, eh?

It’s every player's dream to get to play at Wembley, and whilst nobody wants to get beat - it was still a great day.

RR: Following our relegation in the same season you made the move to a huge club, Manchester United. Ron Atkinson brought you in and you also played under Sir Alex Ferguson for a while too. How impressive was he, even in those early days?

CT: Ron Atkinson was a proper man-manager. He would have tea with the players - he’d mix with them and get involved - where Alex Ferguson was completely different. His mindset wasn't the same - he was focused on success, winning and discipline. The players had to think like him.

Sheffield Wednesday Manager Ron Atkinson
Ron Atkinson, who brought Chris Turner to Manchester United from Sunderland in 1985.

Even though Alex Ferguson wasn’t successful at the start, he began to lay the grounds for future success. He built up that club from youth level. Even though it was Manchester United, they didn't have the best youth academy in those days and he made it one of the greatest ever.

He came in and changed things - the mindset, the youth system; he built that dynasty.

RR: You’ve had a good career outside of playing in football too, managing Hartlepool and of course Sheffield Wednesday, but you haven’t managed a club since 2010. Do you see yourself going back down that route one day?

CT: Well you never say never, but it’s not looking likely. I’ve been CEO at Chesterfield for a long while now. The game has changed. Fans wants results fast and Chairmen go with the fans - sometimes you don’t get the chance to build.

The best time to get a club is when most of the players are on their way to the end of their contracts, because you can look at who you want to keep and who you don’t and bring in replacements that you think are the right fit.

You just don’t get that allowance of time anymore.

Sunderland v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

RR: How far do you think that Jordan Pickford can go in the game?

CT: He could go on to be a contender for the England number 1 shirt.

I actually saw him before most Sunderland fans probably did, when he was at Bradford, and he did exceptionally well. What I like about him is that he’s been given a chance and he’s taken it. Sunderland have also done what most Premier League teams don’t and given a young boy a chance in the net - even when they were getting beat and he was conceding goals, they still stuck with him. Now every time I see him, he’s growing in confidence.

If he can stay in the team whilst continuing to improve, he’s definitely got a shot at becoming the England number one.

RR: You were linked with the job of CEO at Sunderland last year - it looked pretty nailed on that you would get it at one point. Were they just baseless rumours, or was it actually quite close to happening?

CT: I should have got that!

Yeah, I had somebody ring me who was on the inside who was rooting for me to be given the job. I really would have been proud to have taken it, because it’s a club I know - a club I have a lot of time for - but they decided instead to go with Martin Bain. I wish him luck, because I want to see the club succeed. It’s a fantastic, fantastic club.

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