25 Gav - Papy Djilabodji
Can I just start this by saying that regardless of anything else, the fact we paid eight million pounds for this absolute dosser is bordering on criminal.
He was absolutely hopeless and at no point did he want to be here - and he didn’t care who knew it. Instead of getting on with the job he was very well paid for, he sulked, half-arsed it and in the end, went AWOL and got sacked for breaching his contract.
We’ve done some shocking transfer business in our time as a Premier League club, but this particular one is right up there near the top.
Papy was pap, and he slots in on the left-hand side of my defensive three.
26 Malc - Didier NDong
Thanks for clarifying that dossers that cost a lot are a sound nomination Gav. Cos here we have the “creme de la creme” of expensive dossers, in Didier NDong.
After arriving in the summer of 2016 for a club record of over £13.5m, he played in the same team as my last midfield nomination, Darren “Hic” Gibson. He made 49 appearances across the premier league and championship double drop, and then promptly put his pet lip out and refused to turn up for pre-season training, not wanting to aid our attempts to exit league one at the first pass.
In summary, we didn’t pay the pleb (one of the few things that Stewart Donald did which many applauded), and eventually, we sacked his sorry ass as we did Papy above. He will be most fondly remembered by most fans for “that picture” at the beach resort, taken while he should have been working hard in prep to help the lads bounce back.
He is probably my strongest nomination for a slot in the worst 11, and in my personal opinion a total bell-end. I can see him standing proudly in our poorest ever midfield without much doubt at all.
27 Matty - Glenn Loovens
Charlton at home in Jack Ross’ first match will forever give me nightmares. Glenn Loovens and Alim Ozturk as a pair might just be Sunderland’s worst ever centre-back pairing!
The Dutchman was meant to be Sunderland’s experienced head at the back, but this signing stank of desperation and in reality it was one final payoff for a player who was completely finished in professional football.
Loovens was painfully slow and never looked like a player who had dropped down a league to join the club. The fact he was given a two-year deal was laughable and his signing continued Sunderland’s fantastic recruitment record, despite the club being under new ownership.
He was sent off in his last match for the club in a crucial match against Portsmouth and never played professional football again - I rest my case.
28 Jack - James McFadden
A classic ancient player dud signed without a lot of thought behind it, also see: Louis Saha; Andy Cole.
Made his name scoring the odd worldy for Scotland but generally he has been a low scoring forward/winger for the majority of his career, so no shocks that he didn’t do anything here other than waste a wage.
Apparently, he made three appearances which was an actual shock. What were we expecting out of a bloke who was only signed to a three month deal? Bizarre, and pointless.
29 Martin - Brendan Galloway
Absolute competition winner.
He was absolutely terrified whenever a player ran at him, couldn’t tackle, couldn’t mark, couldn’t pass - couldn’t do a thing. I toyed with Tommy Lynch for my left back position, but this fella was an absolute shocker. He did have decent earlier career, at MK Dons and then Everton, but he was a disaster - and it seems he’s never recovered.
30 Phil - Marcos Angeleri
How this bloke was a semi-regular in the Argentina squad I have no idea, but I can only guess that it was to boost the confidence of the strikers and to make sure his goalkeeper got enough practice in the training games.
Angeleri came highly rated from Estudiantes but after his first start came in the defeat to Nott County, including a farcical attempt to cross the ball where Angeleri stopped the ball out wide and took a few steps back as if he was taking a set-piece, he was barely seen again before being shipped back to South America 18 months later.
Somehow he went on to make top-flight appearances in Spain as a centre back, but for his performances at Sunderland alone he’s worthy of a place in the side.
31 Phil - Andrea Dossena
In what was an annual hunt for a left-back at the time, Director of Football Roberto Di Fanti turned to free agent Andrea Dossena who had flopped at both Liverpool and then Napoli.
After a promising debut in Gus Poyet’s first home game, a 2-1 win over Newcastle, Dossena’s Sunderland career ended almost as soon as it had begun after he was sent off at Hull the week after just minutes after Lee Cattermole had been given his marching orders.
Dossena made a handful of appearances until Marcos Alonso was brought in on loan to fill the vacant left-back spot and Dossena ended up at Leyton Orient after being released at the end of the season.
32 Martin - Marc Wilson
This was a player whose medical showed he physically wasn’t able to kick a ball hard.
One thing we need our defenders to do?
Unfit, uninterested, untalented - Wilson is another one of those that you completely forget ever played for us - until you wake up in a cold sweat remembering him unsuccessfully chasing yet another forward who’d jogged past him as if he simply wasn’t there.
In truth, we’d have been better off if he wasn’t.
33 Jack - Andy Welsh
Signed during Mick McCarthy’s promotion campaign and I was surprised to learn that he scored 2 goals in that season, one being a free kick on his debut!
All my memory of him is a skinny lad who didn’t really contribute much during his time here, he certainly wasn’t what we needed in terms of stepping up the Premier League. At least he made the headlines in the best way possible by getting sent off against Liverpool - real halcyon days the 15 point season (still better than League One).
I guess a better question is how he was getting a game, starting in our first four Premier League games in 2005/06 - I know we were desperate that season, but it’s little wonder when cack like this we’re getting regular starts.
He went on to have an uneventful lower league career, other than a stint in Canada, not scoring many or playing much barring a century run at Yeovil.
34 Matty - Jake Clarke-Salter
Imagine being sent off, serving a three-match ban, then on your return game being sent off again!
Jake Clarke-Salter was a signing who made sense at the time given Ellis Short’s financial neglect, but in reality he was completely out of his depth. Sunderland needed quality and experience, but instead Chris Coleman was forced to gamble on inexperienced youth loans.
I strongly believe to this day that if Lamine Kone had not been replaced by Jake Clarke-Salter, Sunderland would have beat Burton Albion and not been relegated on that day. He came on for nine minutes, losing an aerial battle in the build up for the first goal, before being outjumped by Liam Boyce for the second.
I will never know how he was named England under-21 captain a year later.
35 Malc - Jason Denayer
Jason was one of my borderline picks if I am honest, as he was a victim of a few issues out of his control. The facts are that a lot of the lads had already picked the other proper shoddy stuff I fancied for the middle of the park, so I threw him in as another disappointment compared to what we wanted and needed.
This future Belgium international (who played and lost against Wales in the 2016 Euro semis, and is in the squad for the competition to come very soon) joined us on loan in the summer of 2016. He made 24 appearances, and like modern day utility players like Luke ONein, he was often asked to play in midfield rather than at the back. Difference is, while the fans could see this wasn’t his ideal slot, David Moyes played him there anyway and watched him be pretty below average most of the time.
He left us to return to Turkey and then went on to Lyon, where to be fair he has done well for himself, keeping a squad berth for his country for Euro 2020/21, as mentioned. For us though he was another poor loan; another square peg in a very round hole, and another pretty crap option, especially surrounded by others we have called out. Not great, but not the worst in this list. And loads of injuries for a good sized lad. Just poor.
36 Gav - Robbin Ruiter
Hypocrite warning - I used to try and defend Ruiter back in the day.
I really wanted him to turn things around here and do well.
Sadly, he never got the chance - he left with only bad memories.
Having an absolute shower of crap in front of him in the Championship certainly didn’t help, but some of his goalkeeping was shocking - I’m still having nightmares about Millwall at home. If you’ve blanked it from your memory.... good. Don’t head to YouTube for the highlights because it’ll only haunt you for the rest of the week until the alcohol kicks in.
One position we’ve always been well-served in is goalkeeper, so bad Sunderland goalies are few and far between. For that reason, Ruiter makes it into my side, given his time at the club was so frustrating and poor.