The former Republic of Ireland youth international only appeared for the Lads for a mere fourteen minutes, replacing Michael Proctor in the dying moments of a 1-0 home defeat to Newcastle United and in turn making one of the most daunting of debuts. It's logical thinking considering only weeks after his debut Sunderland were relegated and redundancies were handed out right, left and John Mensah. Thankfully for the former Academy graduate his release didn't coincide with early retirement and he is now into his fourteenth season as a professional after carving out a successful career in America, where he has racked up over 100 appearances. Part of the prestigious Arsenal youth academy, brothers Gavin and Justin Hoyte were tipped for the very top of the game by legendary boss Arsene Wenger.
I've been supporting Sunderland for 32 years now and it feels like 30 of them have been spent looking for left backs. The more things change the more they seem to stay the same! In my opinion, there is no way Sunderland can 'make do' without another left back. I like Denver Hume and root for him. I'm sure he'll develop and I'm not ready to write him off, but I don't think we can rely on him alone. His injury record alone tells us that. But, more to the point, Sunderland shouldn't have to make do without a left back. We are told we have by far the biggest budget in the league, so the idea of that translating into a squad with any glaring holes at all is ludicrous. No one is expecting Paolo Maldini
Following our promotion from the Second Division in 1964, most associated with Sunderland AFC no doubt hoped that it may herald the beginning of a bright new era for the club, and that it may re-capture some its past glories. Sadly, this was not to be, for the next six seasons would see our once proud club battling for First Division survival, a battle which was finally lost at the end of the 1969-70 season. Thus we started our first full season of the 70's back in the Second Division and our first game of the 1970-71 campaign saw us make the long journey to the South West to face Bristol City at Ashton Gate, and while our attack showed that it seemed to be up to scratch when we netted three goals courtesy of Joe Baker (2) and Bobby Kerr, on the other side of the coin, Bristol City illustrated our defensive vulnerability well when they went one better goal-wise to end up 4-3 winners. The result perhaps also illustrated that our task of regaining our First Division place was not going to be at all straightforward.
On this season's performances, it's clear to see that the central defensive duo of Jordan Willis and Alim Ozturk are looking like Sunderland's best bet moving forward. The pace and tenacity of Willis coupled with the aggressive, no-nonsense approach adopted by Ozturk has thus far looked relatively solid. Of course, there have been some hairy moments, not least the goal conceded against Portsmouth last weekend; however, by and large the combination of Ozturk and Willis looks like one that is allowing those around them to flourish. The opening two league games of the season, whereby Ozturk was left out of Ross's side, saw a shaky Sunderland defence struggle to contain their opponents. But, just
The goal we conceded was p*ss poor and there's no escaping that - nor is there any escape from the reality that our back line is about as calm as a raging alcoholic going 'cold turkey' at Christmas time. These are vital issues, the solutions to which will be pivotal in our grand campaign to break out of this division at the second time of asking. Whether it be through imminent, urgent reinforcement or a renewed resolve to adhere to the exact commands of their coaches, we'll know in due course. Thankfully, we have other things that are slowly but surely becoming equally difficult to deny - namely the attacking intent of Jack Ross's team and tactics. Three from three isn't the end of all doubt
Sunderland were far from at their best last night down at Rochdale. In truth, I actually felt that the home side probably deserved something from the game, but we held out and ensured that our quality shone through over the course of the ninety minutes. The defending for the goal we conceded was poor - our midfield went missing as Rochdale passed it around our box, and our goalkeeper got absolutely nowhere near the ball as it flew past him and into the net. And towards the end of the game Rochdale ramped up the pressure and came close with a number of chances - but, thanks to an improved showing from Jon McLaughlin, we held on and finished the game as victors. Both of our goals are examples of
Sunderland owner Stewart Donald was kind enough to join us on the Roker Rapport podcast at the weekend. During his appearance, he discussed the departure of George Honeyman to Hull City and explained how it was purely a football decision, pointing out the fact that we could have cashed in on Aiden McGeady, Luke O'Nien and Jon McLaughlin but chose not to. A lot is made of the fact that we cash in, etc. We didn't agree to sell Aiden McGeady, we didn't agree to sell Luke O'Nien and we didn't agree to sell Jon McLaughlin. When asked whether someone had made an offer for O'Nien, Donald replied “Yeah”. The club that made a move for O'Nien was last season's League One champions Luton Town. The Hatters
With the dawning of a new week, we can for the first time this season reflect on a weekend in which Sunderland recorded a victory. It was a hard fought three points against a side who will be there or there about come May, and within a handful of impressive performance was one from our new captain. Grant Leadbitter hadn't featured a great deal before the 2-1 victory against Portsmouth, despite being made club captain after the departure of George Honeyman to Hull. Recalled from being an unused substitute in the 1-1 draw at Ipswich Town, Leadbitter lined up alongside Max Power as one half of a defensive midfield duo. Despite a rocky start, he led his side to victory and put in a real captain's