For a promoted team, to stand any chance of surviving in the top flight a prolific striker is almost imperative these days.
This was certainly the case for Roy Keane’s Sunderland after their majestic promotion from the Championship in 2007. Keane was spending big but was still short of prolific striking options who he could hang his hat on scoring goals for the club.
Despite the signings of Michael Chopra and Roy O’Donovan, Jones’ signature was seen as essential for the season to come. After much discussions with his parent club Southampton, the Trinidadian eventually signed on the proverbial dotted line on the 29th August 2007 in £6 million deal.
From the moment he made his debut, fans could understand Keane’s desperation to sign the big physical striker.
Not only did he score goals, but Jones’ pace, power and physical presence ensured Sunderland had someone who could lead the line for the team - which was vital considering many games consisted of Keane’s team being on the back foot.
In his first season at the club, Jones notched up seven crucial goals which essentially kept the team up.
Despite his positive impact at the club that season, Jones had his critics too. I recall being at many matches where fans thought his style was languid and possibly even lazy at times but when he was on song, he was hard to stop.
Such were his performances throughout the first season, Jones had potential suitors further up the league from as early as November with Chelsea and Liverpool heavily linked with his signature.
In a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in March 2008, John Terry heaped praise on Jones suggesting that he was one of the best strikers in the league.
Jones was fantastic against us and I have played against him twice now.
He is a very good player, very hard working and probably the best in the air in the entire Premier League. He really is that good.
All the lads were talking about him afterwards in the dressing room, saying how well he did and how impressive he was. If Sunderland can stay up and keep hold of him they have a fantastic chance of kicking on.
The summer of 2007 brought much anxiety after Jones’ performances. The striker was consistently linked with a move away, with Liverpool looking to send Peter Crouch in the opposite direction.
Jones and his manager insisted that he was going nowhere which was much relief for the Sunderland fans.
Kenwyne and our goalkeeper are definitely not going anywhere. There are certain players who are untouchable.
Sometimes a club might think they might get £20m or £30m and invest it and it’s a good deal for everyone but it certainly wouldn’t be a good deal for us to let Kenwyne or our goalkeeper go. It would set us back a hell of a lot. They are no-gos - even if we were offered crazy money.
The following season saw Jones suffer an injury in a pre-season friendly for Trinidad and Tobago against England. This led to a war of words between Roy Keane Trinidad and Tobago chairman - or cowboy - Jack Warner.
Upon his return, Jones had an instant impact and formed a decent partnership with Djibril Cisse despite rumours of their fractious relationship.
Jones’ fantastic form led to heavy interest from Tottenham Hotspurs in January 2008 where it seemed likely he was going to move.
To the relief of the fans, Niall Quinn appeared to strike a lucrative increase in his contract which saw the striker commit to the club:
We are building a team for the long term and Kenwyne is a big part of that.
In signing this new deal he’s shown that he wants to be part of our future and believes in what Ricky and the club are doing.
In the current economic climate, the figures bandied about for Kenwyne have been staggering, but we have shown our intent to build a bigger and better club for the future by retaining our best players.
Jones continued to be a success with his physical style key to our play.
Frustrations surrounding his goal return became more of an issue the longer he was at the club as his goals dried up in his third season under Steve Bruce with the striker only hitting 9 in 33 which was a couple of goals less in more games in comparison to the previous season.
It appeared his relationship with Steve Bruce was fractured and this led to his departure from the club - one which seemed to surprise many fans at the time.
I guess I don’t have any bad things to say about a player but his golden boy at the time, and rightfully so, was Darren Bent. Me and Benty had a really good partnership going on but Steve Bruce for some reason he was at ends with me and on top of that I was going through a devastating time in my personal life.
I was going through a divorce at that time, so things were not mentally all there for myself but I still held up my end of the bargain with my performances and me and him had a falling out one day because Liverpool wanted to sign me but Bentiez was the manager at the time and they were going to pay the money down, I think it was £16m or something like that.
On the other side everything was agreed and we had a falling out in training one day and he basically shut the deal down and then forced me to go to Stoke in the summer.
That’s how I ended up going to Stoke, Stoke wanted me but it was because I just wanted to get out of under the management of Steve Bruce at Sunderland really.
The signing of Kenwyne Jones was one of the most significant ones of the Roy Keane era. He was the poster boy for Keane’s newly assembled promoted side and his contributions during that time wont be forgotten.
Happy Birthday Kenwyne!