Victims of their own success? - 14/10/2002

Victims of their own success?
He needs backing

I’m sorry to see Peter Reid go, he’s a good bloke and he’s been good for football. He achieved an awful lot for Sunderland, yet paradoxically I feel that his achievements were ultimately the making of his and Sunderland’s downfall. Prior to last season for two years Sunderland finished just outside of European qualification, whilst. Newcastle finished in mid-table. Clichéd as it might sound; if you stand still in football you go backwards.

Go back to the summer of 2001. Sunderland hadn’t been far away from Europe and with such a healthy placing in the league, they appeared to be a club on the up. At Newcastle we had finished in mid-table, and many tipped the club to achieve a similar position in the following season. However, whilst Sunderland failed to capitalise on their relative success, the Newcastle directors had the bottle to continue to re-invest in the team. As a result Bobby Robson brought in players such as Bellamy and Robert whilst Sunderland bought Lillian Laslandes. Newcastle went and splashed out millions on those players whilst Sunderland appeared to hunt around the bargain basement.

For me, clubs with ambition need to capitalise on their success in the Premiership. Success at clubs can ebb and flow, certain clubs are on the up, others on their way down. You ask quality players which club they want to move to, and they’ll obviously tell you that they want to join a team that’s going places. Sunderland could have gone out and made a big £10 million pound signing and used this to raise their profile. They’ve got the stadium and the fan backing but didn’t splash the cash! Newcastle can beat them in both these areas and also show much more ambition. This year we attracted two very bright prospects in Hugo Viana and Titus Bramble. Do you think Sunderland could have bought these players? The answer is no – but if they’d gone out and bought big the previous year, then it’s possible that player’s such as Robbie Keane wouldn’t have turned them down.

So whether it was Peter Reid, the Sunderland board, or a combination of them both, it’s been a case or so near but so far. Whether Howard Wilkinson and Steve Cotterill are the answer, I don’t know. But if they are, then somehow the Sunderland board will need to find the money to back them. If they want to see how it should be done, I suggest they take a look 11 miles down the road.

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