To say these two clubs have a lot of history together would be something of an understatement. Sunderland and Leeds have competed against each other since 1924, a Division One fixture that ended with a 1-1 draw in Leeds’ first year in the top league since their formation in 1919.
Since then Leeds fans saw Raich Carter, as a manager, earn their side promotion back to Division One and then be forced to sell their star player, John Charles, to Juventus for a then world-record fee of £65,000. United then refused to renew Carter’s contract and, much to people’s surprise, he left the club in 1958. Absolutely fuming with them, I’d imagine.
In the season of our last league meeting, Sunderland were promoted while Leeds United were relegated to the third tier of English football for the first time in the club’s proud history. This was the final product of years of terrible financial management from the board, and when they were docked 15 points at the start of the season they relied on Dennis Wise and Gustavo Poyet to try and turn their fortunes around. The duo did a very good job, lifting Leeds into the playoffs despite the handicap. Maybe for Leeds it was too good of a job as both men were poached by Newcastle and Tottenham.
In 2008 Leeds turned to local boy and now Sunderland manager, Simon Grayson to march them back to the Championship. And sure enough, in 2010, that’s exactly what he did. However, Grayson couldn’t mount a promotion challenge and, despite then-chairmen Ken Bates calling the fans “morons” and refusing to invest much into the side, he eventually lost his job to be replaced by Neil Warnock.
Then came Massimo Cellino.
Cellino has a list of key moments involving his ownership since he became majority shareholder in 2014 - and none of them are good. During his time in charge Cellino went through 7 different managers and perhaps the only decision he got right was signing Garry Monk, but even he’s left now so I suppose it doesn’t matter anymore.
The Cellino problem, however, has gone now and for Leeds fans they can start looking forward to the future with Andrea Radrizzani in control of the club. Although I don’t know the man personally he seems to be an improvement on Cellino; Radrizzani has completed the purchase of Elland Road meaning Leeds United actually own their stadium for the first time since 2004. A very positive start indeed.
Sunderland and Leeds United will face each other for the 92nd time today with the Lads winning 34 times and losing 39 of those meetings. However, one of those wins for Sunderland was the ‘73 FA Cup final and it goes without saying that an FA Cup final victory counts for much more than just a notch on our head to head record.
In recent memory Leeds and Sunderland haven’t seen very much of each other at all apart from a 3rd round FA Cup tie in 2015 that was settled by a tidy Patrick Van Aanholt finish and eventually led to us being knocked out by Bradford City, so lets just forget about that one, shall we?
December 26th 2006, Sunderland 2-0 Leeds United
Boxing Day at the Stadium of Light and Roy Keane’s Sunderland sit 11th in the table with as many wins as we do losses and a sense of optimism returning after moving on from what was a terrible start to the season by winning three home games on the bounce.
The win here today means Sunderland will have won more games than we’d lost for the first time all season, and the attendance of 40,116 was the highest of the season up until that point by quite a margin.
Those fans were rewarded with a good performance from the lads, and goals from David Connolly and Grant Leadbitter ensured that it was a fourth straight home win for the lads.
Keano was especially pleased by the result as the team bounced back from a 1-0 defeat away to Crystal Palace a few days earlier.
It was a good performance and a good reaction from the players to the defeat a couple of days ago.
It would have been nice if we'd scored a few more goals but we thoroughly deserved the victory.
We had to get a win because we have to keep up with that chasing pack. I wasn't concerned one bit.
Hopefully it’s more of the same tomorrow!