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Soccer - FA Carling Premiership - Liverpool v Sunderland

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On This Day (15th May 1995): Sunderland board remain quiet on Reid’s future!

It seems like a no-brainer all these years later, but back on this day in 1995, there were concerns that the Sunderland board wouldn’t be able to meet the demands of Peter Reid to secure his long-term signature as manager.

Photo by Matthew Ashton/EMPICS via Getty Images

At times, following the Lads can feel like a continuous wave of constant ups and downs.

The low of the Lawrie McMenemy debacle was followed by the resurgence and optimism of the Denis Smith era, which in turn, came before four years in the wilderness - keeping our head above the drop under a selection of managers in the second tier.

The club struggled under the stewardship of Malcolm Crosby, Terry Butcher and Mick Buxton, and to be fair to Buxton, there was an element of steadying the ship for a year or so. But that all changed following a disastrous Friday night in Barnsley - which is probably a phrase that is said more often than you’d think.

We’d gone into the game two positions and two points above the relegation zone, having played more games than Stoke City and Swindon Town below us, while Danny Wilson’s Barnsley were hunting down the play-offs.

New recruits Dominic Matteo and Brett Angell went straight into the starting line-up - but goals from Newcastle-born Malcolm Shotton and, once Denis Smith target, Andy Payton, resulted in a 2-0 defeat at Oakwell.

Soccer - FA Carling Premiership - Manchester United v Everton - Old Trafford
Brett Angell challenges Manchester United’s Gary Pallister at Old Trafford while at Everton
Photo by Phil O’Brien/EMPICS via Getty Images

The appearance from Dominic Matteo also meant that we were under investigation by the FA for fielding an ineligible player, due to us making a mess of the paperwork involved for his loan deal from Liverpool, and the appearance of Brett Angell against Barnsley simply made us realise we’d signed Brett Angell.

We were now one point and one place above the drop, Mick Buxton was relieved of his duties, we were potentially going to be docked points, Matteo returned to Liverpool and we were relying on Angell to fire us to safety - things looked bleak.

Enter stage left, Peter Reid. Which was completely out the blue and out of character for Bob Murray, as it was his first external appointment since he brought Denis Smith in from York City in 1987.

Looking back now, it seems bizarre that Reid had not been picked up after a decent start to his managerial career as player-manager at Manchester City that ended in August 1993. Between leaving Maine Road and his appointment at Roker in late-March 1995, Reid had very short stints with Notts County and Bury as a player, but hadn’t taken up another managerial role.

The former Everton midfielder’s return to management wouldn’t be an easy one, as he had seven games to secure safety - but we won three and lost one and finished six points above the drop. Finally, we had a bit of optimism about what might lay ahead, but first we had to secure Reid’s signature long term as he was handed the task of saving the day in seven games and neither club or Reid looked beyond that initially.

As Sunderland fans were desperate to hear any news that might suggest we could actually look forward to the season ahead, there were concerns that Reid might walk away from the job. Days earlier discussions took place at Roker where a two-year contract was the main topic, but it was understood that Reid had asked for assurances that a transfer kitty of £1 million would be provided to improve the squad.

On this day back in 1995 Reid spoke publicly regarding the current situation as he continued to make decisions as manager without the certainty of how long he would last in the role:

I’m still waiting to hear from the board, but I’m very positive about the situation. I’m hopeful I will sign a contract sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile Reid was planning to talk to players regarding the retained list that was due to be announced 24 hours later and the rumour mill was gaining momentum in the assumption Reid would remain in charge at Roker.

An “exclusive” in the Evening Chronicle on this day 28 years ago, revealed that Reid was targeting Paul Bracewell to return to Sunderland to become his assistant and if Kevin Keegan blocked the move, attentions would be turned to Burnley’s Adrian Heath.

Rumours regarding potential additions to the squad were also filling column inches and Middlesbrough goalkeeper Stephen Pears was one of the first names linked with a move to Roker Park under the new manager after Bryan Robson had released him from Boro.


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