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The SOL Years: This is the top 20 of SAFC players to play less than 25 games for the lads - #20-16

To celebrate 20 years at the Stadium of Light (and to help pass some time because that period between the season ending and starting is boring) Roker Report are looking at the top 20 players to play less than 25 games for the lads during the last 20 years.

Sunderland v Everton - Premier League Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Number 20: Sulley Muntari - 9 apps, 0 goals

I remember the day we signed Sulley Muntari and I was ecstatic; he really seemed like a shrewd piece of business. I remembered how good he was for Portsmouth, especially after winning the FA cup with them. Jose Mourinho put Muntari at the top of his wish list after he landed the Inter Milan job, and sure enough he left Pompey for around £14 million to join them.

The Ghanaian international even won the Champions League with Inter in 2010, coming on as a 79th minute substitute; therefore, I fully expected that Muntari would play well for us a with a view to a more permanent signing come season's end.

Barcelona v Inter Milan - UEFA Champions League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

However, If there was ever a player that did not hit my expectations then it would have to be Sulley. I mean we signed a Champions League winner, and yet he only started 7 games for the lads. I presume at the time Asamoah Gyan had a lot of say in the transfer, and we did have John Mensah as well - both of whom were Ghanaian internationals.

Steve Bruce set the tone for expectations of Muntari by saying:

If you had said to me six months ago that we would be looking at Sulley Muntari, who had just won the Champions League, I would have said, 'not a chance'. This is an ideal opportunity to bring in a top-class midfield player who moved to Inter for about €17m. To bring him in now can only give the club a lift

Muntari himself added that:

I will just try to do my best to help Sunderland go further because they are doing well. I hope I can help the club go to Europe.

Muntari though flattered to deceive. He looked poor on the ball and lazy off it - as though he was not happy to be at Sunderland. We actually never won a game that he started, and he left the club with a poor record of 0 wins, 1 draw and 6 defeats. He did nearly manage to hit the net away at Bolton, a 2-1 victory, though it was credited as a Zat Knight own goal eventually.

Ultimately Muntari’s time at Sunderland was a huge disappointment. The 5-0 away defeat at Manchester City optimised Muntari for me: lazy, inept and disinterested. There was a player in there somewhere, but he never wanted to show it at Sunderland.

That said, this list is purely subjective and when thinking of players that made under 25 appearances for the club, Muntari - in terms of quality and the trajectory of his career - probably needs to feature somewhere, even if it is way down the list.


Number 19: Paul McShane - 25 apps, 0 goals

The ginger warrior. Would put his head on anything. Never won a foot race. Always committed - maybe not good enough.

McShane signed from West Brom in the summer of 2007 and made his debut in a 1-0 victory over Spurs on the opening day. In my mind he looked a decent player, and a snip at £1.5 million. But as the season wore on, it became clear that McShane had some defensive deficiencies.

The 3-0 away defeat to Wigan showed more of McShane’s true colours as he and Russell Anderson tried to concede the most penalties possible within a single game. McShane was also shoved into the lineup for the derby game at Newcastle after Jonny Evans pulled out injured, and decided that having to mark Michael Owen was not worth his time.

Newcastle United v Sunderland - Premier League
Paul McShane struggling in the Tyne-Wear derby he was not meant to be playing.
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

McShane was all about heart and hard work, but that is really it because he never quite displayed the characteristics of being a decent defender in the Premier League.

When you sign low-value players from Championship clubs you are taking a gamble that they can fit in and hit the ground running. McShane did manage to forge a semi-decent Premier League career at Hull; he has since played 74 Premier League games for the Tigers, achieving two promotions with them.


Number 18: Callum Davenport - 8 apps, 0 goals

I remember sitting with my friend after the culmination of the 2008-09 season and we both said ‘We should sign this lad in the summer if we can.’ Unfortunately Davenport’s career was effectively ended in the August of 2009 after he was stabbed in the leg during a dispute at his home.

In his 8 games for Sunderland he showed that he was a decent enough Premier League defender - his crowning moment for the lads was his superb assist for Kenwyne Jones' goals away at Portsmouth; a game that we lost 3-1.

Sunderland v Hull City - Premier League
Davenport helping us win a crucial game v Hull at the Stadium of Light
Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images

Callum played in 8 of the final 9 games of that 2008-09 campaign that saw us just survive relegation whilst our local neighbours Newcastle and Middlesbrough were consigned to the drop into the Championship.

That is not to say that we played terrifically well in those games. Sunderland fell over the survival line rather than pushing themselves over it. In fact that defence conceded 16 goals, lost 6 and won 1 - so not really that inspiring.

But still, I liked Davenport and he was a solid enough defender - certainly when compared to our other January addition that year, Tal Ben Haim.


Number 17: Paulo Da Silva - 24 apps, 0 goals

Ohhhhh Da Silva, Our defender, From Paraguay. He's the captain of his country and we signed him on a free, he's better than Rio and he's better than Terry. Ohhhhhhh Da Silva!

Yeah, I remember the Paulo Da Silva song. Occasionally it pops into my brain when I am showering, or when I am at work. It was catchy, and to be rather blunt it was probably the best thing about having him at the club.

Steve Bruce said upon signing the Paraguayan:

I'm delighted to have signed a player of Paulo's experience. He is captain of his country and has played at the highest level in South America, so will bring leadership qualities to our side.

And Paulo had a reasonably solid yet unspectacular first season at Sunderland. He was a free transfer, meaning expectations were not high, and he was not well known by the majority of the Sunderland fans.

Liverpool v Sunderland - Premier League
Paulo struggling against Fernando Torres in our 3-0 loss away at Liverpool towards the end of 2009-10 season.
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Paulo’s defining moment with us had to be him and John Mensah keeping a clean sheet against Arsenal in a 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light in November 2009. What a performance from both players; they headed everything, won every tackle and battled until the end. Paulo was fairly consistent and never let the team down when he played, yet he never quite got a run in the side. Bruce said that it was due to the defender never quite settling in Sunderland, but I believe it was more related to size and that Da Silva was not a fashionable player.

An accomplished international footballer, Da Silva left the club in January 2011 and has since continued his love affair with Mexican side Deportivo Toluca, where the supporters there consider him to be a legend.


Number 16: Anthony Reveillere - 17 apps, 0 goals

Reveillere - an experienced and versatile full-back - was a French international who earlier in his career played around 300 games for Lyon. And despite arriving on Wearside at the tail-end of his career, the defender is still largely viewed as somewhat that was a decent short-term acquisition by Sunderland.

Signed in 2014, the ex-Napoli man played 17 games for the lads and did not really let us down in any of them. In his debut at Crystal Palace, Reveillere gave a fantastic account of himself after having to switch to left back part-way through the game and was part of a team that ran out 3-1 winners.

Reveillere only really had one weakness and that was his age. Though he was fit and never out of position defensively, he wasn't able to contribute as much offensively as he would have perhaps liked to. Compare that with Patrick Van Aanholt on the other flank who was all attack and no defence - it was probably good to have a full back who offered our side balance and was focused on keeping goals out rather than putting them in.

Sunderland v Aston Villa - Premier League
Reveillere in our 4-0 home defeat to Villa in 2014-15
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Sunderland were all set to re-sign Reveillere for another season, with local media sources even reporting the deal was done. But for whatever reason it did not happen and he retired soon after.

It was a case of a player signing for us when well past his best, but regardless he was able to perform adequately and it showed us a glimpse of how good he must have been in his prime. Reveillere was a solid contributor.


Join us tomorrow as we take you from 15-11 - who makes the list?