When you reflect on the job Roy Keane did at Sunderland, the vitality that surrounded the arrival of Kenwyne Jones is something that always stands out.
Keane also signed his fair share of rubbish as manager (especially when we were promoted), but the continued pursuit of Jones throughout the summer of 2007 was well worth it, given how prominent he was to the entire side throughout the 2007-08 season.
Jones was central to all was good about our play with his aerial threat, pace and physicality, making him a well-known figure by all Premier League defenders.
After scoring just seven goals in his first season, however, Jones needed to improve his scoring return in the next season.
After suffering an injury on international duty in the summer of 2008, the striker returned in our derby day win over Newcastle United in October 2008. From that point onwards, fans weren’t long being reminded of his abilities as he and Djibril Cisse forged a decent strike partnership.
Between his return in late October and early January, Jones notched five goals while he was a central figure in many more that he created.
After Keane’s departure, Jones’ form stepped up a notch or two under new manager Ricky Sbragia, sparking much interest in January, with Tottenham Hotspur heavily linked with our main man. It was well known that Harry Redknapp was a big fan after Jones’ exploits against him the previous season when he was manager of Portsmouth.
Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp has admitted to lodging a bid for Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones. Spurs have made no secret of their desire to bolster their attacking unit during the January transfer window, having already secured Jermain Defoe’s arrival from Portsmouth. They have been heavily linked with Jones for some time and it comes as no surprise that they have made a move. Redknapp, though, insists he remains in the dark as to the progress of the bid, admitting a deal for the Trinidad & Tobago international is far from a foregone conclusion. “We have made an enquiry for Jones,” he confirmed. “I have no idea how far the chairman has got with it or even whether Sunderland want to do a deal.”
In the build-up to our match with Fulham, all the talk centred around whether Sunderland were going to be able to keep their main man. Those questions were answered, however, on the morning of the game against Fulham, with the announcement that Jones had signed a brand new contract to keep him at the club.
The Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones has ended speculation over his future by signing a new four-and-a-half-year deal at the Stadium of Light.
The 24-year-old Trinidad & Tobago international put pen to paper after Tottenham were told once and for all that he was not for sale. The Spurs manager, Harry Redknapp, had indicated that he would be interested in buying Jones – or including him in a swap deal with Darren Bent – but it was announced this morning that Jones will be staying on Wearside until the summer of 2013.
“The chairman and the manager wanted me to stay and I was very happy to stay,” Jones said. “The club is taking a new direction and I wanted to be part of that. I know what Ricky is about and what he wants to do. He has big plans for the club to take it to the next step and hopefully, in the next couple of seasons, that could happen. If you look at the fan base and the facilities that should tell you this is a big club and hopefully this is the start of something great.”
Amongst all the distractions, this was still a vital game for us to play, which would continue their resurgence under Ricky Sbragia. With things looking quite tight at the bottom end of the table, a win would have given the club some breathing space from the teams closer to the bottom.
In an ultimately brutal game of football, it was fitting it was Jones that proved the difference. After both Jones and Djibril Cisse missed decent opportunities in the first half, Jones’ strike, after Mark Schwarzer had saved from Cisse, was the difference between the two teams.
Despite some late pressure from a toothless Fulham team, the game and also the entire day belonged to Jones who solidified his position as Sunderland’s golden boy of this time.
After the game, Jones stated his reasons for staying, with his fears of showing disloyalty being key.
Everyone here at the club was working hard to get me back fit, firstly to just get me to walking again. It was great to have that here. Of course that contributed to me staying, you don’t want to be a bastard. It’s not a good thing to show disloyalty.
Apart from that, this is a big football club. It has a lot of potential. The manager has that ambition, the chairman, the owner, they all have it. I choose to be part of that and hopefully that will materialise.
Sunderland: Fulop, Bardsley, Ferdinand, Collins, McCartney (McShane 70), Malbranque, Whitehead, Tainio (Leadbitter 81), Reid (Edwards 75), Cisse, Jones. Subs Not Used: Colgan, Diouf, Chopra, Healy.
Goals: Jones 55.
Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Davies (Gera 76), Etuhu (Nevland 83), Murphy, Dempsey, Johnson, Zamora. Subs Not Used: Zuberbuhler, Stoor, Andreasen, Kallio, Baird.
Ref: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).