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Reader’s Corner: The Sunderland and Manchester United link (part 2)

In the second of a three-part blog, RR reader Jack Shields takes a look at some of the players who’ve been on the books of both Manchester United and Sunderland.

Sunderland v Manchester United - Capital One Cup Semi-Final: First Leg Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Phil Bardsley

Bardsley signed for Man United as a youngster in 2003 and made his way through the academy set-up. He spent time on loan at Rangers, Burnley and United’s feeder club in Belgium, Royal Antwerp.

The full-back broke into the United first team in the 2005/06 season, before more loans followed at Premier League Aston Villa and in the Championship with Sheffield United. Seeking regular football, Bardsley joined Roy Keane’s Sunderland in January 2008 for a fee of £2 million.

He played his part as Sunderland avoided relegation in 2008 and 2009, and went onto establish himself as a stalwart of the Sunderland team. Managers like Keane, Steve Bruce and Martin O’Neill came and went but Bardsley remained Sunderland first-choice right back throughout the time, barring the odd spell on the bench.

Solid in the tackle, a hard-worker without being too pretty, Bardsley consistent performances lead to comparisons with another full-back from Manchester - Chris Makin. Bardsley wasn’t just an efficient full-back, his ability to strike a ball meant he chipped in with more than his fair share of goals.

Arguably the most famous was, ironically, at his old club Man United in the League Cup Semi-Final at Old Trafford. Into extra time, and with the Lads 1-0 down and needing a goal, the defender skidded a shot in on goal which David De Ge spilled and allowed into the net. Sunderland looked set for Wembley only to concede before the end, eventually going through after a nerve-wracking penalty shootout.

Other highlights for Bardsley included being part of the Great Escape team under Gus Poyet, featuring in three derby wins over Newcastle, and that appearance in the League Cup Final against Man City.

Bardsley’s time at Sunderland soured after the Paolo Di Canio-casino incident. After making 200 appearances for the Lads, he left for Stoke in 2014 and then went onto Burnley where he still plays in the Premier League.

Soccer - Capital One Cup - Semi Final - First Leg - Sunderland v Manchester United - Stadium of Light Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

Fraizer Campbell

Will always score goals....... well not quite, but he’s another ex-Black Cat that started off at Man United under the great Sir Alex Ferguson.

Despite playing regularly and scoring goals for United’s youth and second teams, Campbell never quite made the grade at Old Trafford. He was another of the squad players to be sent on loan to Antwerp, then to Hull City and Tottenham Hotspur, where he had some success.

Steve Bruce paid £5m to bring him to the Stadium of Light in Summer 2009, but his Sunderland career was a frustrating one. Initially signed as a striker, his first season was spent playing largely in a wide-midfield role behind first choice pairing Darren Bent and Kenwyne Jones.

In the first few games of the next season Campbell suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury, which ruled him out for best part of a year. To make matters worse, there was a belief that Bruce may have rushed him back too early as in March 2011 he suffered the same injury and then missed almost another calendar year.

Campbell returned in January 2012 and scored goals against Middlesbrough and Norwich, but his career was again disrupted due to fitness issues, a lack of form and competition for places in a strong Sunderland squad. His main attribute - his pace, seemingly affected by two major injuries.

After three and a half years and only 58 appearances Campbell was allowed to move to Cardiff City. He now plies his trade with hometown club Huddersfield Town in the Championship.

Manchester United v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Danny Welbeck

Another young striker that played for Sunderland while being on Man United’s books was Danny Welbeck.

Welbeck had played sparingly for United since scoring his debut goal against Stoke in 2008. The 19-year old was then signed by Steve Bruce on a season long loan in August 2010.

He joined a mouth-watering Sunderland strike force with top scorer Darren Bent and African World Cup star Asamoah Gyan and Welbeck flourished. His energy and running providing opportunities for the other two players as a strong squad finished 10th in the Premier League.

Welbeck also contributed to the goalscoring charts himself, hitting six in 36 appearances including a Man-of-the-Match performance against Everton when he scored twice in a 2-2 draw.

Popular with the fans, they wanted Welbeck’s deal to be made permanent but it wasn’t to be. Welbeck went onto better things winning a Premier League title at Man United, playing for England and also playing for Arsenal in the Champions League.

He later went onto Watford and now currently plays on the south coast for Brighton and Hove Albion.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Newcastle United v Sunderland - St James’ Park Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

Wes Brown

Big, bad and has orange hair, so beware, Brown was another popular figure with Sunderland fans.

His stellar career started at Man United in 1996 and he was a part of the infamous 1999 squad that won the historic treble. Further success followed with a total of 5 Premier League titles and 2 FA Cups and over 250 appearances for United.

In 2011 he joined fellow teammate John O’Shea in making the move to the Stadium of Light. He oozed class and the ball and his experience and calm manner on the ball made him a fan favourite.

Unfortunately his second campaign was entirely written off due to injury but Brown played an important part in the 13/14 season that featured a memorable escape from relegation and a league cup final. He was also on the receiving end of possibly the harshest red card in Premier League history away at Stoke - thanks to referee Mr Kevin Friend.

Brown always played the game with a smile on his face and his consistency whenever he played helped the team to avoid relegation repeatedly. But for injuries and suspensions - Brown would have easily played more then 87 games for the club in the five years he was there.

With age not in his side, he left the club in 2016 to join Blackburn Rovers, and then retired after a short spell in India.

Sunderland v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

John O’Shea

Like Brown, O’Shea came with a huge reputation and had a fantastic career at Old Trafford.

Signed in 1999 from the Irish league, the defender featured as a utility player in his early days at United and won plenty of plaudits. He won league titles on five occasions before making the journey North with his mate in 2011.

O’Shea was instantly seen as a leader at Sunderland. His encouragement of other players and high-standards lead to him being made captain at the club. His aerial prowess, ability to read the game and steady passing helped the team to successive seasons in the Premier League.

Able to play across the back-line, O’Shea was an important figure in a chaotic period at the Stadium of Light. In total, he played under nine different Sunderland managers - but he was a constant figure at the club. Always dependable, he never hid when the going got tough.

The record appearance holder in the Premier League for Sunderland with 256 was always held in high regard by Sunderland fans. His solid performances, experience and trophy-laden career made him respected across the club.

The only downside was the fact his Sunderland career ended with two relegations in 2017 and 2018. He finished his career at Reading, where he now works as a first team coach.

Sunderland v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Coming soon: Part three of Jack’s Reader’s Corner blog will look at some other names who’ve played for both clubs.

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