On this day in 2016, a 1-1 draw with Borussia Dortmund in Austria brought a successful pre-season to an end.
Thanks to Roy Hodgson putting Harry Kane on corners, however, we’d lost Big Sam to England, and the inspirational David Moyes was in the dugout.
Pre-season wins against Hartlepool (Big Sam doing a half-time flit to St George’s Park), Rotherham, Stade Nyonais and Dijon were followed by draws against Montpellier and a Borussia Dortmund side managed by Thomas Tuchal and featuring Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mario Gotze, Ousmane Dembele, Andre Schurrle and Nuri Sahin, to name but a few.
Sahin it was who opened the scoring, Lamine Kone – being eyed by Everton – heading in the equaliser.
Sunderland - without the injured Defoe and Kirchoff – competed well. Jordan Pickford shared goalkeeping duties with Mannone, O’Shea, van Aanholt, Kaboul and Kone lined up at the back, while Fabio Borini led the line. Interestingly, a late substitute for Cattermole was Embleton, who’s still waiting for a real chance at first-team level. Embleton and Gooch are the only players involved who remain at the club today.
This was only FOUR years ago. FOUR YEARS. Yet it seems a lifetime.
I, like many, thought Moyes was a good appointment at the time, one capable of taking us to that next step. How wrong I was.
He didn’t want to be here, never acted like he wanted to be here, and showed a remarkable inability to get anything from a decent bunch of players.
His signings were awful, he had the motivational ability of a crab, and his ‘we’re in a relegation battle’ mantra after only the second game of the season underlined his defeatist and weak mentality.
Make no mistake about it, the team Allardyce had built was capable of challenging for the top half of the table, and with some competent management would have achieved mid-table with ease.
While acknowledging things were far from ideal above him, Moyes was probably the most incompetent manager we’ve seen at Sunderland for 30 years, and I’ll cheer every loss he suffers for the rest of his miserable managerial career.