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Roker Roundup: Controversial defender Lamine Kone speaks out on his turbulent time at Sunderland

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In today’s roundup: Lamine Kone talks about his time at Sunderland; Simon Grayson speaks out about the difficult job he had in stabilising us last season; and promising young striker Andrew Nelson talks up his loan move to Darlington.

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Kone on his Sunderland career

Lamine Kone has been a shining light for Strasbourg in Ligue 1 this season, as the on-loan Sunderland defender has excelled in a back three for the French side as they have improved their defensive record substantially from last season.

The 29-year-old has been discussing his move to Strasbourg in an interview with francefootball.fr and he was asked to rate his spell at Sunderland out of 10:

I will say six. It started very well when I arrived from Lorient. I lived four months on fire: we were last, before staying up. I then played all the next season, despite the descent into the Championship. But the second downhill in the third division spoils everything...

Two consecutive relegations is rare for a footballer or a club. So hard to digest that. The damage is done. It’s in the past. But I do not regret this passage, even if it ended badly.

Kone says the mood around the club was very tense, even after the relegation to the Championship and says that was solely down to the players and board:

To be relegated to the Championship was already very tense, even if we deserved to be relegated. At the level of the fans and the city, it is a mythical club which had quite a lot of time in the Premier League. They have a story.

The descent into League One was that of too much. The fans turned their backs on us. I understand them. Maybe the leaders could also have made better choices. The responsibility is shared between the players and the leaders. In terms of morale, although I continued to be motivated to practice, it was not the best.

Although he played most of last season with Sunderland, he says there is no way he could have played in League One, which he felt would have been a step back in his career:

Yes, of course. Honestly, I’m worth more than League One. It would have been a regression.

I had the opportunity that several clubs come to me. A lot of things made it so I chose Strasbourg: the speech of the coach, the atmosphere of the stadium, I knew that it played football here, the city is nice. There was everything.

Strasbourg suffered a terror attack earlier in the week when a gunman opened fire at a Christmas market, killing four people.

Kone discussed that incident and how much it hurt the people of city, as well as France as a whole:

It hurts the city, the Alsatians, the French. Strasbourg is a Christmas, festive city. The whole world comes to see the Christmas market. It’s the identity of the city, the region. It spoils the party enormously.

We talked about it between us, the players, some were not very far from the place where it happened. We quickly got the word to stay home, warm. Personally, I live on the outskirts. But we have been following this closely.

We are really bruised.

The club intend to honour the victims with a special shirt made to be worn in the game at Reims later today and Kone said it is an immense honour to represent those hurt in the attack:

It is an immense honor to represent the victims. It’s good that Racing has a special jersey for this match. We will be mobilized.

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Nelson discusses loan move

Andy Nelson joined National League North outfit Darlington on Thursday, in a loan deal that will see him stay with the Quakers for the next month.

The young striker has been discussing the move with the club’s official website and revealed that he is just happy to be back playing again after an enforced spell on the sidelines due to injury:

It’s been a tough couple of months recently, what with having an injury problem through pre-season and facing set backs through it as well.

Obviously I had surgery to repair it as well and that made things a little bit more complicated, so I am grateful for the opportunity that I have been given for more games, as at the end of the day that’s all I want to be doing.

I am hoping that if I can get some goals that’ll be top notch.

I’m just looking to get the game time really, whatever I can get [goals] is a bonus. I am thankful for Darlington for taking me on and actually giving me the opportunity to get fitter and sharper.

Darlington manager Tommy Wright says Nelson that the plan for Nelson is for him to depart for a higher level after the 28 day loan is over:

I think it’s been an ongoing one for him [his toe injury], it cut short his loan in Scotland last year.

Went into pre-season still struggling with it, obviously had the operation and has been out for a couple of months, so this loan probably suits all parties at the minute perfectly.

It’s going to be no more than 28 days, so I think the plan for him is to get the games in and hopefully get his goals in and then move on to a higher standard of football.

Wright discussed the type of striker Nelson is and says he will go straight into the starting line-up for the game against Chorley this afternoon:

I think he’s one of those strikers, you preach to strikers that the harder you work the more rewards that you will get and I think he definitely falls into that category.

I think he works tirelessly hard and he’ll give us a physical presence up there, he uses his body well, he chases down, I think he’ll compliment what we’ve got and I think he’ll improve what we’ve got.

So I am delighted to have him on board and obviously he’ll go straight into the starting XI on Saturday.


Grayson on Sunderland’s major problems

With the release of the Netflix series Sunderland ‘Til I Die yesterday, the manager of the team for the start of the show, Simon Grayson, gave a Q&A with Metro UK where he discusses his time at Sunderland, as well as his general thoughts on management.

Grayson discussed how difficult it was managing the club last season and says the squad was not as good as he thought it would be when he initially took over:

I knew there would be players coming and going at Sunderland. Sometimes you inherit a squad that is not as good as you thought it would be. Confidence was shattered too. My job was to pick up the club.

But we brought 12 players in and the stadium was a tough place to go. Chris Coleman (Grayson’s successor) had 29 matches, nearly double the number I had, to keep them up and he wasn’t able to do that despite being an international manager. That suggests the club had major problems.

Now it is the perfect opportunity for [current boss] Jack Ross because they hit rock-bottom. They can’t go lower.

Although he doesn’t answer when asked if he was sacked too soon, he does believe he would have turned the club around if he had been given more time:

There was a lot of negativity. The owner (Ellis Short) wasn’t investing and you find it difficult in the Championship if you don’t. You’ll find it hard, no matter who you are. I still had belief we could turn it around but that it would be a much longer job than people thought.

Bury v Sunderland - Carabao Cup First Round Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images