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On This Day (7th October 2002): Peter Reid is sacked as Sunderland manager!

It was the end of an era at legendary Sunderland manager Peter Reid was relieved of his duties after seven and a half years at the helm.

Generally in life, the good things will always come to an end at some point.

Peter Reid’s career as manager of Sunderland will always be fondly remembered due to his longevity (which is rarely seen today) and the passion he brought to the job.

With two consecutive seventh-place finishes, we had our most successful time as a club in the Premier League under his stewardship and with hidden gems like Kevin Phillips and Julio Arca unearthed during his time, there is plenty to reflect fondly on.

Unfortunately by October 2002, things had gone stale with Reid. The 2001-02 season was a frustrating one where the striking prowess of Phillips and Quinn waning somewhat, and with new recruits not having the desired impact.

Peter Reid

With only 28 goals scored in 38 games, the club finished 17th and survived by the skin of their teeth. Tension amongst fans was rising steadily in relation to Bob Murray and Peter Reid’s respective positions.

In many ways, it was like a civil war with the pro and anti-Reid sides vociferous in expressing their feelings on the matter - so much so that Reid suffered lager being thrown over him in a pre-season friendly.

Awful, with people fighting among each other all over the ground. They were more supportive [of Reid] than in pre-season because you had a big first-day ticket allocation, the performance was quite good and those that support the club on pre-season tours tend to be different – die-hards who have been to every game and feel very let down.

“Ever since we went to Liverpool [in November] the atmosphere has been terrible between the pro-Reid and the anti-Reid factions. At Blackburn, I saw some lads with T-shirts saying “Save our Sunderland – Murray Out, Reid Out” confronted by about 15 pro-Reid supporters which very nearly came to blows.”

The 2002-03 season started somewhat brightly with a win and a draw out of our first four games but it was the three consecutive hammerings that we took in September that began the end of Reid and Sunderland’s connection.

With two of the aforementioned losses being against Middlesborough and Newcastle, it was hard to see a way back for Reid.

It must be added that the manager certainly sought ways to allay the slide but the big money signing of Toré Andre Flo did not work whatsoever - and that left him in very choppy waters.

Tore Andre Flo of Sunderland Photo by Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

In early October, a convincing defeat to Arsenal spelt the end for Reid who left after seven years in charge of the club. Bob Murray released a statement to Sky, which ensured a glowing tribute to the man who brought some of the best moments to the club in recent times.

Nearly a quarter of the season has gone and we are at the wrong end of the table and can’t wait any longer for performances to improve.

We’ve invested more than £22 million in the playing side in the last nine months but unfortunately results have not changed for the better since last season.

I have enjoyed a close professional relationship with Peter and the Board and I would like to thank him for his significant contribution and efforts for the club in the last seven years.

I stand by my decision not to change manager during last season as I am convinced that we would have gone down if we had.

Whilst I know that recent months have been difficult and disappointing that should not cloud people’s judgement to the many positive things Peter has achieved for this club over many years.

Early rumours suggested David O’Leary and George Graham as favourites to replace Reid. What transpired was an unholy disaster, with many fans pondering whether they should have really looked for change.

Wilkinson returns the ball

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