The latest edition of the Roker Rapport Xtra Podcast is now available [details of how to listen are down below] and it was a special edition of the show - not only does it include a season preview and a preview of the weekend’s game against Bristol Rovers, but the Lads were also joined by a very special guest... Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips!
The first port of call was asking Super Kev about a recent social media development involving the former Sunderland striker and a wannabe new Sunderland owner.
Energy drink entrepreneur William Storey tweeted a photo alongside Phillips at St George’s Park earlier in the week, but during the podcast Phillips gave a one word answer when asked about the meeting:
When asked whether he could be one of the mysterious “blue chip backers” Storey keeps referencing, Phillips made it clear that the photo was purely coincidence:
Coincidence. End of. Move on.
As someone who had the opportunity to return to Sunderland himself, Phillips believes Danny Graham has made the right decision in returning to the club.
Asked whether the former Blackburn Rovers striker had something to prove, the former England international believes Graham will be ‘boss’ League One and expects him to be amongst the goals quickly:
Yeah definitely and I think he knows that, he aint daft, he’s an experienced player.
I actually think he’ll do well, I think League One, I think he’ll boss it.
I watched him a fair bit last year for Blackburn, he still looks like he’s got that hunger and desire.
At the end of the day, if he didn’t want to come back and prove anything, he wouldn’t have come to the club. He knows what the pressure is like up there, I think he knows he can stand out in League One.
Given the service, with the players Sunderland have got in that league, I think he’ll score goals, I think he’ll get in the right areas and it’ll do him the world of good getting off the mark last night.
I actually think it’s a very shrewd signing from Phil Parkinson and if we were sitting here two, three months down the line still talking, I think Danny Graham will be sitting on close to double figures [for goals].
Phillips had that chance to return to the Stadium of Light back in 2006, shortly after Niall Quinn completed his takeover of the club but turned the move down in favour of a transfer to West Bromwich Albion.
Although he admitted that there will always be a ‘what if?’ regarding the decision to go elsewhere, he believes he made the right decision and points to Robbie Fowler failing to hit his previous heights during his 2006 return to Liverpool:
There’s always that ‘what if?’ isn’t there? But I think I made the right decision, my initial reaction when Quinny rang me and said “would you come back?” without evening thinking about it was yes.
When I had time to think about it and you sit and speak to your family and you speak to people that are close to you, it would have been very difficult for me to go back up there and emulate what I had achieved before.
I think you are better off just leaving that legacy as it was, I always think back to when Robbie Fowler went back to Liverpool, as much as he’s a legend, it wasn’t the same was it when he went back. Although he didn’t tarnish his reputation, I just didn’t want to run the risk of that.
I think I made the right decision but there’s always that ‘what if’, isn’t there? But I think generally I made the right decision.