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On This Day: 7 September 1993 – Sunderland boss Butcher seeks reinforcements

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ON THIS DAY (1993): Former England skipper Terry Butcher’s first full season in charge at Sunderland had got off to an indifferent start, and his eyes were firmly fixed on the transfer market.

Soccer - Endsleigh League Division One - Notts County v Sunderland - Meadow Lane Photo by Phil O’Brien/EMPICS via Getty Images

On this day in 1993, Sunderland manager Terry Butcher was eyeing further additions to his new-look squad. Despite the pre-season signings of Phil Gray, Derek Ferguson, Alec Chamberlain, Andy Melville and Ian Rodgerson, Butchers was keen for more.

On-loan striker Lee Power, who’d scored a lovely goal at home in a victory over Chester in the League Cup, was earmarked for a permanent move, while his Norwich City teammate Colin Woodthorpe was being eyed to strengthen the team at left back. Manchester City’s Andy Hill, meanwhile, was fancied to fill the full back slot on the other side of the pitch.

Soccer - FA Cup Semi Final - Sunderland v Norwich City - Hillsborough, Sheffield
Woodthorpe had played against us in the FA Cup Semi final almost 18 months earlier
Photo by Neal Simpson/EMPICS via Getty Images

After a disastrous season opener – going down 5-0 to a Marco Gabbiadini inspired Derby County, the team had picked up a little, beating Charlton 4-0 at home days after the Chester game. A late defeat at Notts County had followed, as had a home win over Tranmere in the Anglo Italian Cup.

The immediate impact of Butcher’s signings was limited by the infamous car crash – and while Gray, Melville and Chamberlain all went on to be good players for us, Rodgerson failed to impress, and Ferguson never eclipsed the performance on his debut against former team Rangers in Gary Bennett’s testimonial.

Derek Ferguson of Sunderland
Ferguson flattered to deceive for much of his Sunderland career
Getty Images

Not of the players Butcher was targeting on this day 27 years ago signed permanently, of course. Power – now chairman of Swindon Town – returned to Norwich after 5 games, Hill stayed at Manchester City for a few more seasons, while Woodthorpe, who’d played against us in the FA Cup Semi in 92, stayed at Norwich for another season before heading to Aberdeen.

Butcher’s spell in charge lasted only a couple of months more – the former England captain was sacked after 5 consecutive defeats, the last of which was a home defeat to Southend – Brett Angell getting his customary goal against us, and Barry Fry jigging down the touchline.

The only signing he’d managed to make was that of James (as he was then) Lawrence, who’d recently finished a holiday at Her Majesty’s pleasure. And, to be fair to Lawrence, who went on to have a very good career at Bradford and Leicester particularly, being thrust into first team action at that point was a step too far.

Sunder v Bradford Rae high kick
Alex Rae goes in low on Lawrence, then of Bradford.
Photo by Owen Humphreys - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images