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Roker Report Draft: Creating Sunderland’s worst-ever starting XI (Rounds 9 & 10) - End is near!

The end is near, but we have another two rounds of picks for you today - would any of this lot have made your worst XI of Sunderland players?

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

49 Gav - Jack Baldwin

I had to think long and hard about this one.

Sunderland’s lowest ebb has been dropping to the third tier, and really, our worst players at this level are arguably the worst consistent starters to ever don a red and white shirt.

Jack Baldwin, therefore, is right up there.

Despite a decent enough start in the 18/19 season, Baldwin fell to pieces around Christmas time, and there can be no disputing that his blundering performances in the run towards the end of the regular league season contributed massively to the way we chucked our automatic promotion chances.

I’ll never forget his defending in the 5-4 loss to Coventry, in which he practically gifted Mark Robins’ side an advantage, time after time.

He was loaned to League Two and was never seen in the first team again, eventually ending up at Bristol Rovers - who got relegated last season.

I want a defence full of mistakes, and he’ll slot nicely alongside Donald Love, Gareth Hall, Papy Djilobodji and Callum McFadzean in my horrific back five.

Burnley v Sunderland - Carabao Cup Second Round Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

50 Malc - Jeremain Lens

We signed this lad from Dynamo Kiev in 2015, and we then spent the next three years trying to make him work, or to loan him out.

For someone who claims to be a winger or a striker, he is a poor man's version of both. He appeared more times for his loan clubs back in Holland than he did for the lads, and he had an equal scoring ratio for one of them too (Fenerbahce 4 from 26, SAFC 3 from 22).

His crowning moment for this list was when he scored a great chip against West Ham in 2015, only to then get 2 yellows and help the result be a 2-2 draw from a 2-0 lead.

He was another massive letdown, who followed a manager to the club (this time big Dick) and didn't provide what was expected. Just not good enough. Sorry Jezza.

Bradford City v Sunderland: Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

51 Matty - Cabral

Cabral was one of many Di Canio/Di Fanti signings where Sunderland tried to be clever and pick out unknown players across Europe who were good value for money. Unfortunately lacked both the talent and the character to succeed on Wearside.

He looked in a player during Sunderland’s pre-season Asia Trophy matches and against a poor Fulham team, but he was removed after 61 minutes against a lower league MK Dons side in the League Cup and never played again!

More wasted wages, more poor recruitment and you really question how he even came up as someone who could succeed in the Premier League.

FBL-ENG-PR-SUNDERLAND-FULHAM Photo credit should read LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images

52 Jack - Paul McShane

Oh how rosy things looked on his debut.

Solid and committed, working well with Nyron Nosworthy to contribute silencing mercurial pairing Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane, leading to a 1-0 opening day win. Such halcyon days did not last.

I always remember the Everton mauling when he looked like he had won a competition to be there. I’m surprised anyone ever gave him a run out at centre back again following that bomb-scare showing.

Going from Jonny Evans to this bloke was like having Franz Beckenbauer replaced with a mop with a paper plate for a face, and even after the Northern Irishman’s return for a second loan, we were forced to endure this horror again.

Replacing the injured Evans against Newcastle at St James Park, and unsurprisingly played horrendously - he even managed to head one bizarrely into his own net, though it was graciously ruled out.

A must at centre half in my team.

Everton v Sunderland Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

53 Martin - Adnan Januzaj

Another loanee who patently couldn’t give a flying one, Januzaj had the ability to be a difference-maker for us – if only he could be arsed.

Soft as the proverbial steaming pile of shite, Januzaj is one of those players I have absolutely no time for. He wasn’t prepared to roll his sleeves up and give it anything approaching his all – he knew his paycheck was coming regardless.

Chelsea v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Kieran Galvin/NurPhoto via Getty Images

54 Phil - Steven Pienaar

Now I've got a shocking back four sorted, I've now got the slightly harder task of making sure they get no help from the midfield.

Since our season under David Moyes was one of the worst in recent memory, it's no surprise that I'm backing another of Dour Dave's former Everton players to go in the centre of the park.

In his day, Steven Pienaar was one of the best left wingers in the league, and his partnership with Leighton Baines was one of the most iconic of their era in the Premiership.

However, by the time he arrived at Sunderland, Pienaar was no longer a left winger and ended up playing most of his games in the centre of midfield, and even then he only made a handful of starts across the season.

He certainly wasn't the worst player of the season, and he's not the worst former Everton man in my team but the fact that a former attacking left winger was signed as an over-the-hill midfielder shows exactly how bad things were under David Moyes that season.

Sunderland v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

55 Phil - Liam Bridcutt

Like Pienaar, Liam Bridcutt was another player brought in having previously worked with Sunderland's manager before demonstrating that he simply wasn't good enough to have a successful spell on Wearside.

There's another timeline in which Bridcutt's signing was a great one and after a brilliant debut in the 3-0 win over Newcastle many thought the former Brighton midfielder would live up to his tag of the "New Makelele".

Despite being a favourite of Gus Poyet, Bridcutt was forced to miss most of the run which led to the great escape and Lee Cattermole use those games to cement his place as our first choice defensive midfielder going into Poyet's second season.

As a complete Gus Poyet player, Bridcutt always struggled to move the ball forwards with his passing, and it's no surprise that he followed Poyet out of the door by being shipped out to Leeds, first on loan and then on a permanent deal.

Bridcutt is now a decent midfielder at Sunderland's current level but the fact that it's taken two relegations to say that shows just how poor his signing was for a top flight club.

Sunderland v Darlington Pre Season Friendly Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

56 Martin - Tommy Miller

To be honest, centre midfielders were tough to pick but Tommy Miller was just so disappointing he deserves a starting berth here. Signed from Ipswich as a dynamic, goalscoring midfielder who needed the chance to step up, coming home to his native north east, an (alleged) boyhood Sunderland supporter.

A match made in heaven surely?

Nope, it was plucked from the depths of hell. Miller was the original Mr Invisible.

He made absolutely no impact at all, was part of the 15 pointers, and he was so bad Roy Keane even allowed him to play against us while on loan at Preston. Admittedly that did backfire a little as Preston beat us, but Miller, typically, was nowhere to be seen.

FA Cup: Sunderland v Northwich Victoria

57 Jack - Russell Anderson

Brought in with a decent reputation from Aberdeen but left me feeling we should rebuild Hadrian’s Wall and put him back over the border.

His showing against run of the mill Wigan showed he had the turning circle of a combined harvester, and giving away a penalty to boot condemning us to an away defeat.

Keane gave him the boot from the team after that one solitary showing, and it proved to be his first and last outing. One game in a three year stint, with two lower league loans thrown in for good measure, where I’m sure he was equally uninspiring.

Anderson was quoted as saying he never wanted to leave Aberdeen, with an intention to play there for his whole career - I wish he had.

Cork City v Sunderland Photo by Patrick Bolger/Getty Images

58 Matty - Roy O’Donovan

Despite making a success of his career over in Australia, Roy O’Donovan was absolutely awful at Sunderland.

He was signed on the back of his excellent form in Ireland by fellow Irishman Roy Keane, but he failed to score a goal for Sunderland and will be remembered for constantly missing chances.

O’Donovan was perhaps the right type of signing who never met the hype, Keano evidently thought he was recruiting the next Robbie Keane, but he ended up with a player whose best form in England came on loan with Hartlepool in League One.

Another waste of money on what seems an endless list.

Sunderland vs Cobh Ramblers Photo by Patrick Bolger/Getty Images

59 Malc - Ricky Alvarez

This bloke was not only shite, but with only 11 appearances for the lads and a huge knee injury cock up causing us millions of damage (that even the present team are feeling the effects of) he is right up there with Rodwell and Grigg as a massive financial drain we just didn’t need.

We got him from Inter on loan in 2014, and we didn’t even sort out a suitable contract to prevent ourselves from commercial exposure if he took a knock or two. This is one of the best examples (alongside maybe Milton Nunez) where we proved we were a higher league team, with a group of people running the club full of schoolboy errors.

If nothing else, this hopefully taught us a business lesson, but as it happens he wasn’t very good either, so on the balance of both, he is right up there in players I wish never got a whiff of a red and white shirt. Game for game, probably one of the most expensive loans we have or will ever experience.

Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

60 Gav - George Dobson

My logic on including Jack Baldwin applies to George Dobson - another player we spent good money on that struggled in the third tier.

I could see the logic in signing him, particularly given his upbringing in the game with Arsenal and West Ham, but he was completely wrong for Sunderland, and we are completely wrong for him.

He might totally shock me and end up coming good, but his performances prior to being shipped off to Wimbledon were not good enough - hence why we got rid.

I want players who can’t pass, can’t tackle, can’t run and can’t shoot in the middle of the park. He certainly fits the bill, and fits well into my side.

Burnley v Sunderland - Carabao Cup Second Round Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images



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