Crack on and try not to say anything stupid!
Former Sunderland coach Robbie Stockdale was recently appointed assistant manager at Hibernian, where he is now number two to ex-Sunderland defender Paul Heckingbottom.
Stockdale was on pre-match press duties for the Scottish Premiership side ahead of their midweek trip to St Johnstone, and, during the press conference, he discussed his role in the Sunderland ‘Til I Die Netflix series.
The 39-year-old is featured in the series as he was a coach throughout the season in question. That season ended with Stockdale as Caretaker Manager for the 3-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers. However, despite his role in the show, he says he is yet to watch it back:
I’ve been in professional football for over 20 years and in the last six months I’ve been recognised more from being on a TV programme rather than doing all the right things for 20-odd years.
Sunderland was a massive part of my life, both good and bad. The Netflix documentary, I haven’t watched it, to be honest.
People have and they’ve told me what it’s all about, it was a tough year and a tough couple of years and I really hope they get back to where they deserve to be.
There’s a lot of really good people at the club, people who I’m still in touch with – players etc. It was not always within peoples’ control what happened.
I’m not one for looking back, there was no particular reason whey I’ve not watched it. I’m not going to get emotional watching it or anything like that, it was hard enough living it and it’s there and there may be a time when I do watch it.
The guys who filmed it were fantastic, they were Sunderland fans who produced it as well but that’s in the past - I have no ties with the club anymore and it’s full focus on that.
You got used to it. The first month, six weeks, it felt a little bit intrusive but you start to build a relationship. There were not that many people there filming, there was maybe on a busy day, four or five - a couple of cameraman and a producer.
You started to build a relationship with them and they started to understand the bits they could get access to, and some they couldn’t.
Occasionally you’d walk into a room and not realise there was a little camera in the corner with a red dot on until someone taps you on the arm and points.
It was always sold to us that it didn’t stitch anyone up or anything like that and I think Netflix went into it thinking it could be a really good story of getting promoted back to the Premier League.
But it was probably an even better story for them that we got relegated - the interest was probably heightened.
Stockdale was also asked whether his involvement made dealing with the press any easier:
Not really, it’s not that you get used to it. I was caretaker manager three or four times at Sunderland and you only really get that job when something has gone wrong.
There were a couple of press conferences that you know are interim and there might be someone looking in from the outside who is coming in in two weeks’ time, those were the tough bits.
It’s all part and parcel - crack on and try not to say anything stupid!
No hard feelings from retiring Diaby towards Dan Smith
Ex-Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby announced his retirement yesterday after an injury plagued career, which many suggest started with Dan Smith’s injury-inducing tackle back in 2006.
Smith injured the French midfielder during a 2006 Premier League match at the Stadium of Light and was regularly cited as the cause of Diaby’s faltering career. Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger regularly mentioned Smith while discussing the player, including in a tribute to the retiring midfielder:
Abou, I’m really sad that you’re ending your career. Just the other day, I talked about you and this tackle at Sunderland that hurt you so much. I spoke of your courage and the strength you showed each time to come back.
Unfortunately you could not express all the talent that was in you. I’m sure you’ll do it in another form in your new life. In any case, thank you and I wish you a lot of happiness for the future.
Despite Wenger’s comments, Diaby himself has no grudge towards Smith, saying that injuries are just part of the game:
I did not meet him again. Frankly, in all honesty, I have no grudge.
I was told he apologized, high-level sport is like that, sometimes it can to be violent and to have suffered this violence, I accept it like that, I do not hold it against him, it’s my life, it’s my story, it’s like that.
Khazri on transfer decision
Wahbi Khazri joined Saint-Etienne from Sunderland in the summer, after he rejected the chance to re-join Rennes - a club where he had a successful loan spell the season before.
The Tunisian international has been speaking about that decision recently. The former Black Cat noted that he hopes Rennes will respect him enough to say a thank you for his role in helping the club get into the Europa League this season, but is also thankful to the club for getting him back on track after his difficult Sunderland spell:
I made a choice. I’m happy with what I did in Rennes. I think if they play the Europa League on Thursday, with a lot of respect and humility, they can say a little thank you because I helped them.
It also allowed me to get back on track because I had a rather difficult time. I am very happy what they are doing, because it’s a very good club, very well structured, that has real qualities.