#81 - Tom Albrighton - Emanuele Giaccherini
Little Giac, what a talent.
He was never given a fair crack at Sunderland, but when he did play Giaccherini always looked a talent. His low centre of gravity, toes that made the ball stick and his eye for a pass made him stand out from the crowd. The catch? Well, he never really played that often.
We’re thin on the ground, being 80 odd picks in, so when we’re picking at scraps, Giaccherini is in there not for what he did (rule breaker) but for what should have been. Have no doubt, given a decent run he would have been one hell of a signing.
#82 - Michael Graham - Tony Norman
With a back three of Bould, Hurley, and Evans with Venison and Hutchison protecting them, I can’t imagine many shots will be raining in on my goal. Therefore, a fine shot-stopper is the order of the day behind them, and Norman was up with the best in that department.
#83 - Gav - Stan Anderson
Another all-time Sunderland great that I can’t believe hasn’t been picked yet - Stan Anderson, our 4th all-time highest appearance maker, who played for the lads for eleven years between 1952-1963. Anderson is famed for being the only man to play and captain for Sunderland, Newcastle and Middlesbrough.
I’ve got him as the second player in my midfield three, along with Bobby Kerr, breaking up the play and marshalling the rest of the side. I said I was going big on experience and leadership, and with a Hall of Fame-worthy career behind him, Stan’s the man!
#84 - Rebecca Johnson - Dariusz Kubicki
I forgot all about the defence again.... whoops... and I was in dire need of a right-back. Kubicki was the next natural choice, and it was surprise he hadn’t been taken earlier. A fantastic right-back for Sunderland, he and Sunderland’s Micky Gray found themselves in the First Division PFA Team of the Year in the 1995-96 season.
However, towards the end of his time with Sunderland he was controversially dropped by Peter Reid from the side when he would have surpassed George Mulhall’s record for most consecutive appearances for the club.
Still a domineering right-back, Kubicki makes it into my side.
#85 - Chris Wynn - Cecil Irwin
Despite a number of right-backs being selected so far, I’ve still somehow managed to bag myself one of the greatest we’ve ever had to complete my back four and final XI!
An old-fashioned one club man, Cecil Irwin played 351 games for Sunderland between 1958-1971 and perfectly fills the role of a solid defender who likes to get forward. He was our youngest ever player when he made his debut at 16-years-old and played like a wing-back before it was fashionable.
With a back-four of Irwin, Todd, Watson and Pickering I have the mix of proper defenders to keep clean sheets and full-backs who like to get forward - happy days.
#86 - Matty Crichton - Wes Brown
Somehow Wes Brown has been picked 50 places behind John O’Shea...
Brown completes my trio in defence alongside John Mensah and Nedum Onuoha, the ex-Manchester United and England defender adds to my list of injury prone players, but on his day he was quality.
A no-nonsense centre-back, no stranger to a red card, at times you could see why he played under Fergie for so long.
Brown was a great signing for Sunderland, a key part of our cup final team under Gus Poyet.
#87 - Danny Roberts - John Kay
I was really torn on this pick, as I have three credible picks written down to choose from. The first was Danny Simpson, who enjoyed a successful loan at Sunderland in the Championship. He would go on to win the Premier League with Leicester, but was he ever the best right back ever? My other option was Anthony Reveillere. He was a very dependable right back for the lads, and it’s a shame he didn’t stay for longer than a year.
However, I’ve decided to go for John Kay. Another hard man to complete my back four of hard men. Fondly remembered for his actions after breaking his leg, pretending to row a boat whilst being stretchered off, Kay certainly lives up to that ‘hard man’ billing.
Kay went on to make over 200 appearances for Sunderland and is fondly remembered as solid right back.
#88 - Chris Camm - Vito Mannone
Anybody else really like Mannone? Even now he still talks about the club fondly so it obviously got under his skin. He is responsible for one of the greatest nights in our recent history as he stopped Manchester United and a certain David Moyes from progressing to the league cup final on penalties. Always seemed to pull off great saves when required and was a part of that run of very solid goalkeepers we always seemed to have in the Premier League. Very pleased to have him between the sticks.
#89 - Chris Camm - Peter Reid (manager)
It’s laughable that Peter Reid has been allowed to fall so far down in this draft - I could hardly believe my luck when I found he was available for my final pick. He enjoyed great success with the lads, getting over the heartbreak of playoff final defeat to Charlton (where have we heard that before) by absolutely storming the league on the way to promotion, winning the title with a record points total.
He reigned over one of the best times to be a Sunderland fan, getting us right up towards the upper echelons of the top flight. If only our owner at the time backed him even further and invested in the playing squad we could have seen just how far he would’ve taken us.
#90 - Danny Roberts - Gus Poyet (manager)
I probably need a miracle to win this competition, so who else better to manage this side than the miracle worker himself, Gustavo Poyet.
I loved Gus. Under the management we had some of the best moments I’ll have as a Sunderland fan; Phil Bardsley’s goal against Man United in the League Cup semi-final, Vito’s penalty heroics in the same game, Fabio Borini’s opener against City in the final. Amazing!
As a side, we played some lovely football too. Before the St Mary’s massacre, Gus implemented a style that Sunderland fans had rarely seen before. It was easy on the eye and we passed the ball fantastically at times (see the passing play versus Man United at Old Trafford).
His most impressive feat as Sunderland manager, though, was the great escape in 2014. Sunderland were down and almost out with 5 games remaining of the league campaign. Poyet then masterminded one the Premier League’s greatest revivals, where Sunderland earned 13 points out of a possible 15 in their following five league games. It was ‘increyable’.
#91 - Matty Crichton - Dick Advocaat (manager)
I think Dick Advocaat is probably the most experienced and decorated manager Sunderland have had in the 21st century.
The Dutchman had vast experienced managing across the globe and shown a true passion for the club and the fans.
Unfortunately his signings did not work, whether he wanted Adam Matthews, Seb Coates and Fabio Borini is for him to say.
He did however bring players internationals like Yann M’Vila and Jeremain Lens to the club, he certainly had the right vision in mind.
I think with better recruitment the Dutchman could have made things work.
#92 - Chris Wynn - Johnny Cochrane (manager)
Whilst seeing managers being selected who underachieved at Sunderland by barely scraping 17th in the Premier League, and the obvious selection of Bob Stokoe taken, I was left with an opportunity to appoint the only manager who won both the Football League championship and the FA Cup whilst manager of Sunderland - Johnny Cochrane.
It’s difficult to even imagine the scenes if Sunderland finished runner-up in the Premier League one year, followed by winning the title the next, then winning the FA Cup the season after that!
Johnny Cochrane managed Sunderland between 1928-1939 whilst winning 42% of his games in that time, exclusively in the top flight, which see’s him installed as the perfect gaffer of my talented XI.
#93 - Rebecca Johnson - John MacPhail
I was torn between playing 4-4-2 or messing around with some options including three at the back. I picked a centre-half who not only gets the job done but is a cracking penalty taker, with ten penalty goals out of sixteen goals in the Third Division promotion season and totals 22 goals in total during his Sunderland career. There’s nothing better than a centre-half who can chip in with goals, so McPhail was the natural choice.
#94 - Gav - Ian Porterfield
Completing my line-up - and midfield - is FA Cup hero Ian Porterfield, the scorer of the only goal in the game which cemented his place in Sunderland’s history.
This team has an immense amount of goals in it, and with Kerr and Anderson doing most of his running for him, Porterfield can get forward and arrive late in the box.
#95 - Michael Graham - Kieron Brady
I have a brilliantly functional and solid Sunderland team - the finest ever assembled - so the last piece of the puzzle is some maverick attacking talent. Brady was certainly that before the injury, with Michael Gray describing him as the most talented player he ever trained with.
#96 - Tom Albrighton - James Fowler (manager)
All the good managers have gone, so I had to think outside the box.
James Fowler - 100% win record. Enough said.