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Roker Rapport Podcast Special: A Life in Football - The Ricky Sbragia Story!

Well Lads and Lasses, our Chris Wynn had the opportunity to talk to the legend that is Ricky Sbragia about his career as a player, his ridiculously successful coaching career, and his time as a dedicated - yet reluctant - first team manager who guided Sunderland to safety in the Premier League following the sudden departure of Roy Keane.

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What’s the crack?

  • Ricky started out his footballing life as a Birmingham player, later joining Walsall, Blackpool and York City where he played under the likes of Viv Busby and Denis Smith alongside a few players Sunderland fans would come to know well later on - which periods, players and managers stood out for him?
  • Why did he make the move into coaching - and how many lads were left at York City after Denis and Viv left for Roker - besides a certain Bobby Saxton of course...
  • Finally following in his fellow York City legends footsteps he joined Sunderland as a coach in 1994 - what were his first impressions of club - and manager at the time Mick Buxton?
  • How were his experiences working alongside legends like Monty, George Herd, Pop Robson and then again with the great Sacko under Peter Reid?
  • Who were his favourite players to work with, and who was an absolute pain in the arse?
  • The years of success under Reidy and then the decline following his departure - how did Ricky make the move to Manchester United to work alongside Mike Phelan and Sir Alex Ferguson?
  • What were the big differences between the coaching styles of the two sides - besides the level of talent available to him?
  • Did he ever do anything to aggravate Sir Alex - and if he did how long did he avoid him for afterwards?
  • His thoughts on the old reserve system - where thousands would turn up to watch a mix of youth and experience. Is it a superior system to the one currently in use in his opinion?
  • His move back to Sunderland after a call from Cookie to coach under Roy Keane, the highs and lows of what followed and his transition to manager following Roy’s sudden departure - how did Niall Quinn convince him to take the job on, despite Ricky knowing how his relationship with the players would change.
  • His decision to resign after guiding Sunderland to survival - how different is managing first team sides - is it as rewarding as working with the young players?
  • Big Sam’s war room revelations - so what was that like?
  • His career since leaving Sunderland for the second time and his opinion of what went wrong for Sunderland under Ellis Short
  • Ricky gives his thoughts on current Sunderland manager Lee Johnson - tells us why he turned down Lee’s job offer - and gives his view on the current Sunderland owner KLD and direction of the club.

All this and so much more. A deep dive into a fascinating career with an absolute delight of a man who may well have preferred to stay out of the limelight - but who certainly deserves every bit of acknowledgement and praise he gets in our opinion. Thanks for listening and enjoy!

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