On this day 28 years ago, Sunderland chairman vowed to give his response to former Roker chairman Sir Tom Cowie on his out-of-the-blue offer to buy him out and become owner of the club for a second time.
Bob Murray was on holiday when Cowie launched an extraordinary attack, publicly critisising his running of the club, and the comments clearly had an impact on the current chairman.
The offer had already been discussed with his fellow directors, Murray was preparing to go on the attack and after making no public statements for the last month, as Sunderland survived relegation to the third tier by a single point, with opinion of the chairman amongst fans possibly at an all time low.
Despite that fact, few believed he would in fact sell to Sir Tom Cowie, the man who he bought out seven years prior, and attention was also being turned to on the field matters, which urgently required surgery after such a poor season.
Manager Terry Butcher was looking to go shopping in his old hunting ground north of the border, and at the top of his list was Scotland international Derek Ferguson, who was a former team-mate of Butcher.
It was believed cash-strapped Hearts of Midlothian were ready to sell the former Glasgow Rangers midfielder, who was also being tracked by Premier League Everton who had made a formal enquiry for the 25-year-old. The potential ace in the pack for Butcher was John Colquhoun, who had failed to make an impact during his two seasons at Roker, and was still a fan favourite at Tynecastle, with over 200 appearances.
Early in his career, Ferguson was likened to Graeme Souness and had seven years at Ibrox before Souness himself sold him to Hearts for £750,000 in 1990. Terry Butcher didn’t rule out a move for the midfielder:
I haven’t spoken to anyone at the club but I know all about Derek from our days together at Rangers and he’s a lad I rate highly.
Despite the constant rumours that Sunderland were about to be active in the transfer market, fans were becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of activity and was fully aware that new players were required.
I can sympathise with our supporters. Believe me, I want players in just as much as they do. But managers across the land are only just returning to their desks now. The transfer market will start hotting up in the next fortnight.
I need to get things done quickly. Time is running out and while a lot of spadework has been done, fans want to see new faces. I hope to have my backroom staff sorted out soon and get the ball rolling on the transfer front.
Sunderland had been heavily linked with Swindon Town’s Martin Ling and Burnley goalkeeper Marlon Beresford, whilst Gary Owers, Gordon Armstrong, Anton Rogan and John Colquhoun were placed on the transfer list.