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Roker Roundup: Jan Kirchhoff on ‘toxic’ Sunderland dressing room & negativity under David Moyes

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In an exclusive Podcast & website interview with Roker Report, former Sunderland midfielder Jan Kirchhoff has spoken honestly about the toxic dressing room and negativity at the club when David Moyes was manager.

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Kirchhoff discusses David Moyes

Ex-Sunderland midfielder Jan Kirchhoff is currently plying his trade with 2. Bundesliga outfit FC Magdeburg and Roker Report’s own Graham recently visited Germany to catch up with the classy midfielder to discuss his time on Wearside.

The full interview will be available later in the week on RokerReport.com but during their discussion, Kirchhoff was asked his opinion of former Sunderland manager David Moyes.

Kirchhoff had just come off a fantastic end of the season under Sam Allardyce when Moyes took over following Big Sam being appointed England manager and said that although he did not know much about him at the start, it did not take long for Moyes to sour the mood around the Academy of Light:

I didn’t have any at the beginning. I just knew him from Everton, Manchester United and a little bit in Spain, so I had no judgement and like you always do in new situations, you go in and have a look. I think the owner wanted someone with a big name and was quite keen on him.

I am far away from blaming anyone because in the end it’s all about coming together as a team, but there was so many small things he did that I just didn’t think were right to do. He’d go out in the public interviews and be negative about the team and the players, he also did this inside the club. The atmosphere changed so drastically from positive to negative under him. The freedom we had before was gone. You’d go from having confidence in the team and yourself to questioning yourself and you’d become frustrated. It wasn’t enjoyable to be at the training ground.

Not just the players, but the coaches, the physios - all of it become very negative and yes, I do believe the manager had a lot to do with that.

It was just really basic things like when you bring in a new player to the team, you bring him to the training ground and introduce him, so you know what kind of guy you have in the team. I don’t like certain players being treated differently, you should treat them all the same.

What really made me angry was that he criticized the players in public all the time in newspapers - and that is a weak excuse to point fingers at others. He built the team, he paid the money for the players.

I was about to say, “excuse me, it’s your team and the players showed we are good enough last season, so what changed?”

You just have to get on with it, it shouldn’t be an excuse for a professional footballer to stop playing, you should still perform. But some players didn’t even get a chance to perform like Wahbi and Fabio Borini as they never played - so it all came together.

The atmosphere in the dressing room was toxic, we would have lots of fights.

Sunderland v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Westwood on signing for Sunderland

Former Sunderland goalkeeper Kieren Westwood has become a popular figure at Sheffield Wednesday since joining on a free transfer back in 2014.

The 34-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season but admits he would like to stay at Hillsbrough due to his infinity with the club and the fact Steve Bruce has taken over as their new manager.

Westwood previously played for Bruce at Sunderland and says he played a big part in him signing for the club:

Steve signed me at Sunderland. I was literally signing for somebody else and I got a phone call to go up to Sunderland.

Purely out of respect for the man himself, I was straight up the motorway to Sunderland. I saw the stadium, amazing, the training ground was unbelievable, the fan base was class, and they had a top 10 finish under the gaffer.

Then I met him and within 10 minutes he had convinced me to sign him.

He’s just a charismatic man, honest, no grey areas, it’s black and white what he demands from you, what he expects. He has man-management and motivational skills, you can’t take them for granted.

This could be a match made in heaven, and fingers crossed it is. I do think the gaffer can do great things here.

Sunderland v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Parkinson responds to Barton

Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton blasted his Bolton Wanderers counterpart last week after their failed attempt to sign on-loan Fleetwood striker Ched Evans from Sheffield United.

Barton was unhappy with how Bolton made their move for a striker who was also interesting Sunderland late in the window, but Parkinson denied any wrongdoing and said his team were given permission to talk to Evans after the Sunderland move fell through:

Someone sent me the quotes and the simple response to that is that Sheffield United gave us permission to speak to Ched, who was going to go to Sunderland then diverted across to us to have talks, and that was it.

They were expecting Fleetwood to sign an agreement and it was absolutely their prerogative not to do it so I’m not sure what we did wrong, or I did wrong, in that particular process. We just put the calls in to the correct people and got permission to speak to the player. I wish Fleetwood and Ched good luck and I hope they finish the season strongly.

Stoke City v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Loan roundup

Sunderland youngster Connor Shields scored his second goal for Alloa Athletic and his first since October but it wasn’t enough to prevent his team losing 2-1 at home to Falkirk.

The visitors took the lead through a Jordan McGhee head after 20 minutes but Shields deservedly equalised for the Wasps 10 minutes later when Dario Zanatta picked out his clever run and the loan converted at the near post. Falkirk’s on-loan Stoke City midfielder won the game after just two minutes of the second half with a close range finish from a Deimantas Petravičius cross.

Elliot Embleton started for Grimsby Town in the Mariners 3-1 League Two away win over Yeovil Town.

Wes Thomas gave the visitors the lead after just nine minutes with a headed effort, the lead was doubled just after the half-hour mark when Embleton surged into the box and saw his powerful cross diverted into his own net by Adel Gafaiti. Kristian Dennis gave Grimsby an unassailable 3-0 lead late on but there was no clean sheet for Grimsby as Alex Fisher scored an even later consolation.

Hartlepool United earned a 1-1 draw at home to National League leaders Leyton Orient but, despite starting the game well, Luke Molyneux did not make it to half-time as he was substituted due to injury and was replaced by Sunderland Academy product Liam Noble.