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Roker Report Draft: Creating Sunderland’s worst-ever starting XI (Rounds 3 & 4) - who’s next?

After we got off to a barnstormer in this year’s draft yesterday, our contenders make their third and fourth picks - and some massive flops are still in the pool of current and former Sunderland players and managers!

13 Gav - Phil Parkinson

We’ve had some shocking managers at Sunderland over the years but I can’t think of any that are as bad as Phil Parkinson.

Quite how it’s possible to fail at a club as big as Sunderland when we’re in the third tier amazes me - and Parky really took it to extreme, ostracising our best player for the craic and playing the worst brand of football I’ve ever seen in my near 30-years as a fan.

His transfer business was horrific, absolutely nobody wanted him here when his appointment was announced, we looked unfit, he stubbornly stuck to the same tactics and plan regardless of who we played, and when he was eventually sacked, even experienced pros like Grant Leadbitter threw shade at him in the wake of his departure.

How he got the job I have no idea. Did he work for free?

Sunderland v Portsmouth - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

14 Malc - Jozy Altidore

‘If Jozy scores, we’re on the pitch...”

Never has a match song been such a long shot, and hence so entertaining to be part of.

Not another winter window signing from me this time... Jozy joined us in the summer of 2013, but by spring of the following year, he had already been dropped to the youth squad, despite allegedly costing us over $10m.

With his overall tally being a lowly one league goal in 42 appearances, and 3 in 52 in all comps, it was no surprise he didn’t keep his place, especially with Steven Fletcher, Fabio Borini and Connor Wickham all challenging for a forward berth.

One of the nicer players by a long way compared to some in this list, the best thing about Jozy has to be his exit in 2015 paving the way for one Jermaine Defoe to come the other way. Both Jozy and Jermaine did okay after the switch, but with his strike rate being as it was, Jozy is a sure (mis)fire nomination for the worst squad ever.

Sunderland Training Session Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

15 Matty - Remi Matthews

A key downgrade this season was Sunderland replacing Jon McLaughlin with Phil Parkinson’s old mate from Bolton, Remi Matthews.

The 27-year-old began his tenure on Wearside with a howler in pre-season against Carlisle, which set the tone for what would be a dreadful season. Matthews made mistake after mistake and failed to keep a league clean sheet.

Carlisle in the cup, Burton at home, Shrewsbury away, Matthews’ handling was always questionable and you rarely felt confident that he would not make a calamitous error.

I was incredibly pleased to see that he was released and I think a move to a lower end League One club with limited expectations would be more suitable for him.

Sunderland v Milton Keynes Dons - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

16 Jack - Jeff Whitley

A player who has had a troubled past, which I have complete sympathy for and wish him well now. That said, he was complete toilet as far as midfielders go. I’m still not sure what his assets were, certainly not Panenka penalties in any event.

A firm favourite of Mick McCarthy, with Whitley making a quite staggering 70 plus appearances despite never really offering anything of note.

I remember watching him in my first season as a season ticket holder, and wondering even as a naive 13-year old, how he was getting game time ahead of Dean Whitehead or Carl Robinson. Thankfully we were promoted in spite of that, without a re-run of comedic dinked penalty kicks.

Soccer - Nationwide League Division One - Sheffield United v Sunderland Photo by Nigel French/EMPICS via Getty Images

17 Martin - James Vaughan

Sometimes, arrogance in footballers is part of their talent.

Le Grande Eric, for example - chip the keeper, puff out your chest, strut around. You’ve earned it. James Vaughan, however? Haway man.

That we spent half a million on this clown defies belief. Memorable for a couple of penalty misses and some god-awful performances, in terms of the arrogance to ability ratio, he’s probably the most disproportionate player ever to don the shirt.

Four months in, we couldn’t wait to get rid.

Get that in your lughole, and get up front in my worst ever XI.

Middlesbrough v Sunderland - FA Cup - Third Round - Riverside Stadium Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

18 Phil - Howard Wilkinson

When you look at the worst Sunderland managers this side of the millennium you can effectively include those who have been relegated from Premiership and those who have failed in the lower leagues. Phil Parkinson has been by far our worst manager since dropping to League One three years ago, but he’s already been taken.

The man in charge of our lowest ever points total was Mick McCarthy, but he also has a promotion on his CV so that keeps him well away from this list.

This leaves Howard Wilkinson, the man most responsible for the first time we broke the record lowest Premiership points total and equally as dour and uninspiring as Moyes and Parkinson, but also a man who was past it by about six years - if we get Moyes or Parky back in another decade maybe they will compete with Wilko for the title of worst manager, but until then the former Leeds manager and lover of bird documentaries will be sitting on my bench with Steve Cotterill franticly taking notes by his side.

Howard Wilkinson

19 Phil - Callum McManaman

To be fair to Callum McManaman he’s certainly better than the 19th worst player we’ve had, but there’s an abundance of horrific defenders to choose from and significantly fewer midfielders so he’s going into the right side of my worst eleven.

Once the man of the match in an FA Cup final, his career has been downhill since then, and like James Vaughan, his most memorable moment came after scoring his only goal for the club in a three-all draw against Middlesborough.

He ran half the length of the pitch to cup his ears in front of Tony Pulis who refused to play him when manager of West Brom. Pulis tapped McManaman on the head afterward saying “He went to Sheffield Wednesday and they didn’t pick him and he is here and they don’t pick him! I understand the boy is very frustrated.”

With Vaughan already chosen, McManaman has the ear cupping role sorted for this side.

Sunderland v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

20 Martin - Lawrie McMenemy

One of two things that should never have left Southampton, McMenemy was the highest paid manager in the country when he joined Sunderland.

He promised to get us out of Division Two. And to be fair to him, he did.

Yes, we’ve had some good times over the past 35 years, but before McMenemy, we’d never been in Division Three. We were one of the most successful, historic clubs in the country, and could and should have rebounded. Because of McMenemy’s crap management, when the ‘good times’ of big money came around in the early 90s, we weren’t in a position to take advantage. We’ve pretty much been playing catch up ever since.

If it wasn’t for McMenemy, a second relegation to the third tier wouldn’t have been as readily accepted by some, particularly the press. But we’ve been here before. Thanks to Lawrie. The other thing that shouldn’t have left Southampton met a similar fate, too.

EM QUALIFIKATION 1999, NORDIRLAND - DEUTSCHLAND 0:3 Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images

21 Jack - Ola Toivonen

A player with a decent pedigree on the continent and we have had success with players like this across my time of watching such as M’Vila, Schwarz and Cana.

Toivonen was nothing like any of these lads, despite a typically impressive YouTube compilation.

A lumbering oaf is the best way I can describe him, often employed in central midfield or behind the forward, though all 12 of his performances were unforgettable with zero goals registered.

Naturally, he has scored at every club he’s been at prior to his stint here and after.


Sunderland Training Session Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

22 Matty - Simon Grayson

When Sunderland were relegated to the Championship it was imperative that we hired someone who could steady the ship and turn the club’s fortunes around. Instead, Martin Bain hired a man known for his work in the lower leagues who just never really seemed to fit the role of being Sunderland manager.

Grayson always seemed completely out of his depth at Sunderland and won just three of his eighteen matches in charge. He recruited poorly and failed to inspire anyone, our Netflix series really nails down just how poor he seemed to be as a manager.

Since being sacked by Sunderland he has managed Bradford, Blackpool and Fleetwood, which tells you just how poor of a decision it was to think that he could lead Sunderland back to the Premier League.

I would rather have seen David Moyes stay... and that tells you everything you need to know.

Sunderland Training Session Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

23 Malc - Darron Gibson

Darron joined the lads in 2017, one of many ex-Evertonian’s who followed David Moyes across the hills to the north east to try and keep us in the championship.

He failed to contribute a lot at all (27 apps, 0 goals), other than showing how footballers can become victims of alcohol, both in terms of featuring in lashed-up phone video clips in the small hours, and being found guilty of drink-driving offences.

After being charged with being DUI in March 2018, he was suspended by the club and then agreed with the club to part ways with his red and white shirt a couple of weeks later.

The fact that he made his debut by being subbed on for Jack Rodwell should have been taken as a sign, but hindsight is often 20-20. A strong candidate for our worst ever 11, for lots of reasons on and off the pitch.

Sunderland v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

24 Gav - Donald Love

The warning signs should have become apparent when Manchester United lumped the useless get in with the Paddy McNair signing - he came here, absolutely nobody knew who he was, and he struggled regardless of which level we played at.

He was crap in the Premier League, crap in the Championship, and crap in League One!

He seemed harmless enough as a lad, like, and like everyone else I kept waiting for him to prove his worth, but as a footballer I cannot think of a worse right back at Sunderland.

Get him in my side!

Sunderland Pre-Season Training Session Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images



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