Sports – Films – Reviews – Life Stories – Video Games It's all here on The Rif Files.
After signing along the dotted line, I was now the new manager of Sunderland AFC. Unbelievable, Jeff! Soon afterwards, I was ushered to the home dugout so I could get my photo taken for the press along with club legend and 1973 FA Cup winner, Jimmy Montgomery. It wasn’t that long ago that I was sitting in Block L19 located in the West Stand as a season ticket hold watching Peter Reid standing on the touchline. How times have changed!
Now, it was time for a press conference where I’ll be able to promote myself to the fans and layout my vision for the club. The first question asked was regarding my inexperience. I expected that to crop up so I prepared myself for it:
“I’m not an experienced manager. I’m not going to lie about that. My background is working with our academy players so this will be the highest level I’ve worked at. I’ve heard what the fans are saying in phone in shows and read the stuff they’ve posted on fan forums and they’re entitled to do so. This is their club. I’m a Sunderland fan too and I too would be frustrated if an unknown took over the club. I will do my absolute best for this club and I hope the fans can see that. Believe in us, remain loyal during the hard times and I can assure you that things can only get better!”
Yes, I mention the song made famous from D:Ream that the fans adopted during our famous run during last season’s Capital One Cup. At least it got some laughs from the reporters in the room. I was asked about my tactical approach. Once again, I had my answer ready.
“I loved the way Peter Ried’s side played in the late 90s/ early 2000s. It was entertaining and it saw us finish 7th in the Premier League two times on the trot. That’s what I want to see from our lads, as well as the determination we displayed in our final run of fixtures last season which helped secure our Premier League status and pick up results against Manchester United and Chelsea. It’s not an overnight fix but again, given time, I feel this approach to our game is achievable.”
It was time to talk about potential transfer targets. I have an idea as to where I need to strengthen but I’m playing my cards close to my chest. I talked about the need to strengthen our defence and perhaps the chance to bring in a proven goal scorer, something we’ve seriously lacked since Darren Bent left to join Aston Villa in 2011. This lead to one reporter asking if we’d resign Fabio Borini from Liverpool. I honestly never thought of that so it threw me off guard a little.
“I sure our fans have a special place in their hearts for Fabio Borini. He was one of the stars of last season who scored some crucial goals in crucial games which lead to him winning Sunderland’s ‘Young Player of the Year’ award and rightfully so. I’m sure Brendan (Rodgers) has seen just how good of a player he is and would want to have him as part of his plans this season. If we were to find ourselves in a position where we could sign Fabio on a deal which was suitable for him and achievable financial for us, and that’s the key, then I would love to have Fabio Borini back as a Sunderland player.”
I confirmed that John O’Shea will remain as club captain with Lee Cattermole appointed as vice-captain. I closed the press conference by thanking the press for attending and look forward to speaking to them again further along down the line
The next day…..It was time to meet the squad for the first time and below, you will find a squad report.
The Squad 2014/2015
Vito Mannone (74/26/£3m)
Costel Pantilimon (74/27/£2.8m)
Maksymilian Stryjek (56/17/£50k)
Joel Dixon (57/20/£90k)
Jordan Pickford (62/20/£200k/ on loan at Bradford City)
Billy Jones (70/27/RB/£1.3m)
Santiago Vergini (73/25/CB-RB/£2.1m)
John O’Shea (75/33/CB/£1.3m/ Club Captain)
Wes Brown (75/34/CB/£875k)
Sabastian Coates (71/23/CB/£1.1m/on loan from Liverpool)
Valentin Roberge (72/27/CB/£2m/ on loan at Stade Reims)
Patrick Van Aanholt (71/23/LB/£1.1m)
Thomas Robson (56/18/LB/£50k)
Lee Cattermole (75/26/CDM-CM/£2.8m)
Liam Bridcott (73/25/CDM-CM/£2m)
Adam Johnson (77/26/RM-LM/£5m)
Charis Mavrias (69/20/RM-CAM-CM/£700k)
Seb Larsson (72/29/CM-RM/£2m)
Jack Rodwell (76/23/CM/£4.3m)
Jordi Gomez (69/29/ CM-CAM-RW/£750k)
Martin Smith (57/18/CM-CAM-£90k)
El Hadji Ba (59/21/CM-CDM/£100k/On loan at SC Bastia)
Emanuele Giaccherini (77/29/LM-CM/£4.1m)
Lynden Gooch (58/18/CAM-CM/£100k)
Liam Agnew (58/19/CAM/£110k)
George Honeyman (56/19/CAM/70K)
Ricardo Alvez (75/26/CF/£3.6m/on loan from Inter Milan)
Will Buckley (71/24/RW-RM-LW/£1.6m)
Duncan Watmore (57/20/RW-ST/£110k)
Connor Wickham (72/21/ST-LM/£2m)
Jozy Altidore (74/24/ST/£3.4m)
Steven Fletcher (76/27/ST/£5.5m)
Danny Graham (69/28/ST/£900k)
Carl Lawson (55/19/ST/£70K)
Mikael Mandron (60/19/ST/£170k)
So as you can see, we’re lacking squad depth. With an average age of 23.75 and an average rating of 66.07, I know that I have my work cut out if I want to achieve a solid mid table finish. The hard work begins today and join me again where I go through my transfer incomings/ outgoings as well as our first months’ worth of games in the Premier League.