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Roker Roundup: Grasp the Nettle! “Sunderland was the worst mistake I ever made” claims ex-boss

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Ex-Sunderland boss Howard Wilkinson has said taking the job as manager was the worst mistake he ever made, whilst our chief scout has been spotted running the rule over England’s top non-league talents.

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Grasp the nettle

Kevin Phillips joined us on the most recent episode of the Roker Rapport podcast (full details of how to listen are below) and during the show he discussed Howard Wilkinson’s disastrous reign as Sunderland manager.

According to Super Kev, the appointment just never ‘felt right’ with the former striker believing he and Steve Cotterill were never a good fit:

My memories was disappointment really.

Great man he is, fantastic for the game of football and what he’s done but it just wasn’t right. It wasn’t the right appointment, I think it was like chalk and cheese with him and Steve Cotterill.

One of the first UEFA Licensed Coaches in the country, he was young, enthusiastic and he had all good ideas but then you put him alongside Howard, who was quite old school. It just didn’t feel right.

Phillips also told an interesting attempt by Wilkinson to motivate his struggling players by telling them to grasp the nettle and trying to prove his point by doing it for real:

He comes in with a plastic carrier bag in his hand and straight away all the lads are looking at each other and thinking ‘what’s he doing now?’.

He starts walking up and down, doing his team talk and he starts going on about ‘who is going to stand up, who is going to take the reigns, who is going to grasp the nettle?’.

Which one of you is going to do that because I tell you what, I’ll grasp the nettle if none of you do it’.

So at that point he opens the carrier bag, puts his hand in the carrier bag and brings out a great big bunch of stinging nettles.

So he says ‘There you are, I’ve grasped the nettle, I’ve done it, I’ve shown that I’m a man’.

He goes round ‘who wants to take them?’ and all the lads are like ‘I’m not taking them’, so he puts them back in his bag and carries on his team talk.

While he is doing his team talk, you think I’m not listening any more, I just want to watch his hand and you could see him while he’s doing his team talk, he’s shaking his hand, he stung the hell out of his hand.

You have to give him credit for trying everything.

Wilkinson himself spoke to the Daily Mail yesterday about his career and said taking the Sunderland job was the worst mistake he ever made and admitted that he never did enough homework before taking the position:

I made some good decisions but I made as many mistakes. Sunderland was the worst I ever made because I made it for the wrong reasons, because of a problem that had developed at the FA. I didn’t do my usual homework.

I talked to them on Thursday night, said yes and was there on Tuesday morning. I made all the mistakes I hadn’t made before.

You can listen to the full interview with Super Kev by subscribing to the Roker Rapport podcast on iTunes, Acast, Spotify or YouTube by clicking the relative links or by entering ‘Roker Rapport’ into your nearest search engine - and make sure to follow us on social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram).

Sunderland manager Howard Wilkinson Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Coton scouts international fixture

Sunderland’s head of recruitment Tony Coton was spotted in the crowd as England C drew 2-2 with Wales C at Salford City’s Peninsula Stadium.

Sitting just in front of Wales manager Ryan Giggs, Coton was watching an England side made up mostly of players from the National League against a Wales team predominantly featuring players from the Welsh Premier League.

Some of the notable players on show were Hartlepool United striker Luke James and Laurence Maguire, the younger brother of full England international Harry.


Former Pools youngster linked

Sunderland are one of many clubs to be linked with former Hartlepool United youngster Luca Murphy.

According to TeamTalk, Sunderland, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, Leicester City, Cardiff City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Leeds United, Middlesbough, Brentford, Sheffield United and Barnsley are all reportedly interested in the 17-year-old.

A move to Fulham broke down in January and that prompted a move that saw Murphy leave Hartlepool by mutual consent and it appears as if he will have plenty of options as he looks to earn a professional deal.