Sunderland 2-0 Wigan Athletic, 9th February 2008
Between the pitch being in horrid condition, an out-of-shape Andy Reid delivering an impressive cameo and Daryl Murphy scoring one of the goals of the season, this match was fairly memorable.
Sunderland and Steve Bruce’s Wigan were battling close to each other at the bottom of the Premier League table - it was important that Keano’s side secured a victory in this game, given how dreadful their away record was at the time.
Despite being second best for large parts of the game, Sunderland did secure the victory. A bullet header by Dickson Etuhu gave the home side the lead against the run of play before new signing Andy Reid’s sumptuous cross-field pass set up Daryl Murphy to rifle a shot in from 25 yards out leaving Wigan, the home fans and probably himself shell shocked with what they just witnessed.
After the game, Roy Keane hailed the performance of his goalkeeper and defence who kept us in the game throughout.
We knew it was an important game against a team battling with us near the bottom of the table.
It was a good victory from a very tough game. Wigan will probably count themselves unlucky but the second goal we got was worthy of winning any game.
We dug deep, our goalkeeper and back four were outstanding and to keep a clean sheet was fantastic.
Sunderland 1-2 Wigan Athletic, 26th November 2011
Franco Di Santo - do you remember him? I had completely forgotten about him until I commenced research for this article. Instantly, memories of this game came flooding back to me.
This game was the inevitable end of Steve Bruce. After a horrendous 2011 where Sunderland had only won twice at home, Bruce was given the sack. Instead of focusing on the clear facts that his results were downright atrocious, the manager preferred to highlight the fans who used his birthplace as a stick to beat him with.
The game had started very well for him when one of his new signings, Seb Larrson, gave Sunderland the lead. After the early goal, we missed far too many chances.
This gave the away side (who had only won once all season) the opportunity to get back into the game - which they duly did. Former Sunderland player Jordi Gomez equalised from the spot kick before Wes Brown messed up a Keiren Westwood clearance in stoppage time and James McArthur nipped in before setting up Di Santo - who slotted into an empty goal.
Bruce was fired a few days later but in his final interview as manager, he surely got his last word in.
“Can I turn the relationship around?” he mused. “I don’t know. It’s going to be very, very difficult. I would never walk away, never. But If I thought that by going it would help everybody then I would consider it, I’d certainly have a think about it. I don’t think that at the minute, though.
“I just want to try to get it right. Hopefully the criticism has bottomed out today; I don’t think it’s ever been as bad as that. It borders on abuse. That’s just the way it is, though, and I have to accept it. I cannot help where I was born.”
Writing the post match report in The Guardian, Louise Taylor correctly disputed Bruce’s ability to feel sorry for himself suggesting the real reasons below.
That last somewhat disingenuous comment will not play well with the majority of Sunderland fans, who simply do not care about Bruce’s roots or his boyhood adoration of Newcastle United.
Instead, most Stadium of Light season-ticket holders are far more concerned about the reasons why he has signed 30 players – several of whom have since moved on – since the summer of 2009, the apparent lack of an overall playing philosophy or tactical strategy, and Bruce’s persistent failure to tweak his teams and formations incisively during games.
Spot on Louise.
Sunderland 0-1 Wigan Athletic, 5th December 2020
Out with the old, and in with the new.
Not only had Sunderland fired Phil Parkinson and replaced him with Lee Johnson, but Kyril Louis-Dreyfus had bought a controlling stake in the football club, signalling the start of a new era.
Though the game (played in an empty Stadium of Light) and its result didn’t really matter in the context of the day’s events, Sunderland were disappointing in their defeat to lowly Wigan.
Despite barely knowing any of the players at his disposal, Lee Johnson decided to immediately take the reins for this encounter - and perhaps he regretted it.
Sunderland appeared to still be suffering the hangover of the previous era where the style of football was akin to medieval times.
Despite lots of possession, the team struggled to make any impact on the opposition goalie who probably couldn’t believe his luck at how easy he had it.
The other notable thing about this game was the return of Aiden McGeady, who made his first start since November 2019 after a fall-out with the former manager.
The Republic of Ireland international was quick to get involved, and he went closest in the first half when he hit the side-netting after a brilliant through pass from midfielder Grant Leadbitter.
That was as good as it got.
Sunderland 2-1 Wigan Athletic, 7th August 2021
Sunderland were fresh, young, and full of vibrancy and style.
For large parts of this game, this was us at our best under Lee Johnson.
Sometimes, his team could look really, really good.
Callum Doyle, youth product Dan Neil and the returning Elliot Embleton impressed, whilst Ross Stewart took over the job of leading the line from a man who lined up in the opposition’s team, Charlie Wyke.
It didn’t start well for us when we went a goal down early in the first half.
Tendayi Darikwa drove down the right and teed up Will Keane on the edge of the box. His touch and volley struck the post before Gwion Edwards beat the offside trap to fire into the top corner.
Sunderland responded two minutes later when Stewart was brought down in the box after a driving run, and a penalty was awarded.
Aiden McGeady was on hand to send goalkeeper Ben Amos the wrong way from the spot and fire into the bottom left-hand corner.
Stewart then gave the team the lead in the second half from a header - notching his first of many important goals this season.
Hopefully someone can fill in his shoes this Saturday!