“I have probably seen as many Everton games as Sunderland games this season - that says it all, to be honest”
It’s not just allegiances to Newcastle that can cause quite a stir with Sunderland fans. Enter Alan Stubbs, an Evertonian, who joined the lads in the summer of 2005, following a rather public contractual dispute with the Toffee’s.
An experienced 33-year old centre back who had captained his former employers to a fourth-place finish and a Champions League spot, it seemed a shrewd move to bring him into the fold.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and had the club known how things would pan out, we would’ve probably not touched him with a ten-foot barge pole.
Managing only ten appearances (and one goal), his defining moment in a Sunderland shirt was his embarrassing display in the 4-1 capitulation against Portsmouth.
Like a lover pitifully pining for his ex, Sunderland were merely a rebound for Stubbs. There’s not been many more as uncommitted to Sunderland than Stubbs was, who wasn’t shy to show where his loyalties lay.
He was spotted at Goodison Park watching Everton play Villareal in August – whilst side-lined with injury – which he defended by stating he had taken his Everton-supporting daughter. Ironically that would be the most defending he would do as a Sunderland player.
But the pièce de résistance in his complete disregard for the club paying his wages, in our game against Everton on New Year’s Eve, the unused substitute was spotted celebrating Cahill’s 93rd minute winner. Something he later denied happening, but admitting his split-loyalties that day.
And within three weeks of that incident, Stubbs was back on Merseyside, disrespectfully comparing his absence away from the club as being out with a long-term injury, and declaring he never wanted to leave in the first place.
I think Sunderland fans would have preferred you hadn’t bothered either, Alan.
“My transfer to Sunderland was not really my will”
The list of charlatans Sunderland have paid eye-watering amounts of money for is sickening to say the least, and unfortunately our record signing is one of them.
Signed for Lorient in August 2016 for an initial £13.6m (eventually rising to just over £17m), you could be forgiven for not having heard of the Gabonese midfielder. Quite what the club saw in him, to validate paying record money was, and is still a mystery to us all.
His magnificent strike in the 4-0 demolition of Crystal Palace was a flash in the pan - for both Ndong and for Sunderland - who followed that impressive result with a 4-0 reverse against Southampton in our own back yard.
Whether he was a bit out of his depth, or just generally incapable of rolling up his sleeves and fighting for the shirt (or a mixture of the two), he was well on his way to becoming a complete flop he would leave the club as.
Following relegation to the Championship, Ndong continued to play with the same ability and effort (or thereby lack of), and his last action in a Sunderland shirt was a studs up challenge on Junior Hoilett leading to his dismissal, in a humiliating 4-0 defeat against Cardiff in January 2018.
Watford took him to Vicarage Road on loan on 31st January 2018, with an option to make the move permanent at the end of the season. But having not played a single minute for the Hornets, and making the bench only three times, Watford surprisingly didn’t feel obliged to take the Gabonese international off our hands.
He was due to arrive back to Sunderland for pre-season training in July 2018, with the club now under new ownership and preparing for a hopefully short stay in League One (that didn’t quite work out, did it?)
But Didier felt it was too above him to bother returning to the club. Cue the club withholding his wages during his absence, and threatening action against Ndong and any other player absenting themselves. Ndong’s response? Post a poolside pic on your Instagram for the world to see.
We weren’t paying his wages at this point, but the sheer unprofessionalism, the absolute brass neck of a player who had contributed so little to the club, leaving him an unpopular man amongst fans.
Whilst Donald & Methven are not exactly the most well-liked figures these days, their ousting of members of the “piss-taking party” - including Ndong - made them popular amongst the fans at the time.
Since his sacking from Sunderland, he achieved his third successive relegation, this time with Guingamp in France, proving some things don’t change.
“I feel great. It’s the fittest I’ve ever been, in a weird way, and that’s without playing”
Who else could I finish off this Red and White Blacklist off with, than the most universally disliked man amongst Sunderland fans. A man whose name can boil the blood of even the more reserved Sunderland fan; that name is Jack Rodwell.
Signed from Manchester City for around £10m on a five year contract earning around £70,000 a week, Sunderland fan’s had high hopes for the then 23-year old. The decision at the time not to include a relegation wage drop in his contract, was a naive move by a club that had faced an annual relegation battle in their last few seasons.
Whilst the club should shoulder a portion of the blame for that, Rodwell’s actions during his time here, epitomises everything wrong with modern day footballers.
His indifference for the club and it’s fans in our ill-fated season in the Championship, is reprehensible to say the least. Making a measly two league appearances that season, Jack was quite happy to sit with his feet up as the ship around him sank into the depths, knowing he would have a nice expensive door to float away on afterwards.
His Daily Mail interview two weeks prior to the transfer deadline, was a desperate attempt to portray himself as a player desperate to play football.
‘Why would I just walk away and be left jobless? The transfer window has two weeks to run and I’m prepared to do anything to play — any decision will be based on the chance to play football, not money.’
As shown in the Sunderland ‘Til I Die documentary, attempts were made that January by then-CEO Martin Bain to convince Jack to rip up his contract and move on. But as the club frantically searched down the back of the settee for loose change to fund reinforcments, Jack snubbed the opportunity for a fresh start, and continued to earn his extorniate wages whilst contributing diddly squat to the team.
But in June 2018, as fans prepared for the first season out of the top two tiers in over 30 years, the club and player finally reached a mutual agreement to bring his torrid four year stay to an end. And whilst there was little to take from his time here (barring his millions of unearned money), Jack had truly cemented himself as public enemy number one on Wearside, and at the very top of the Red and White Blacklist.
A quick glance at a few more undesirable names from Sunderland’s history...
Signed from our fiercest rivals in 1997, Clark was an excellent player for Sunderland, particularly in the 105-point promotion season. However, when pictures emerged from the 1999 FA Cup Final between Newcastle and Manchester United of Clark wearing a ‘Sad Mackem B******s’ t-shirt, he found his time at Sunderland cut short. The passage of time will have cooled anger towards the Geordie, but he is still worthy of a mention.
This absolute donkey of a defender had made a grand total of 0 League appearances for Chelsea and spent a greater portion of time on loan at Werder Bremen, which somehow warranted Sunderland to pay £8m for him in 2016. Another complete charlatan, he followed the same route as Ndong, and was sacked for breach of contract, having returned to training late and failed a fitness test. Another who will go down as one of the worst signings Sunderland have ever made.
I don’t think I necessarily need to explain why Johnson deserves to be included on this list, but I will. Johnson was an important player for Sunderland before his arrest for child-sex offences in 2015. Margaret Byrne inexcusably permitted Johnson to continue playing whilst awaiting his trial, despite being in the knowledge of his disgusting admissions to kissing a 15-year old girl and sending her explicit pictures. This only compounded the shame and embarrassment his abhorrent actions brought to the club. Jailed for six years in 2016, Johnson’s time at Sunderland has been buried deep into the archives, never to be revisited again.