Yesterday's embarrassing defeat at the hands of Ipswich saw yet another ex – Sunderland player net against his former club, this time it was the turn of academy graduate Martyn Waghorn who scored his fifth goal of the season. He became the third former player to score against us in the last four league games. With this infuriating statistic in mind I have taken a look at the best players we’ve let go in this division and see how they match up against our current squad.
GK : Kieren Westwood – Sheffield Wednesday vs Jason Steele/Robin Ruiter
Westwood only made 19 appearances for us over the course of three seasons, but even in those few games he made some fantastic saves – that 1 on 1 vs Bent, the double save at Old Trafford and my personal favourite his acrobatic attempt to keep out a looping header from teammate John O’Shea in the dying embers of the Tyne Wear Derby. Since being released in 2014 he’s gone on to make over 100 appearances for Sheffield Wednesday, establishing himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the league. Now compare that to the chuckle brothers (aka Ruiter and Steele) it’s fair to say ex Sunderland take this round.
Ex Sunderland 1 Sunderland 0
RB : Ahmed Elmohamady – Aston Villa vs Billy Jones
The Egyptian David Beckham. Apparently. Showed glimpses of quality going forward at times, but was always a liability at the back, pretty much the polar opposite to Jones. However I’m definitely going with Jones on this one, he’s a consistent performer and always guarantees 100% effort, not something you could ever say about Elmo.
Ex Sunderland 1 Sunderland 1
CB: Greg Halford – Cardiff vs Tyias Browning
Halford failed to establish himself at Sunderland, making only a handful of appearances. He has been up and down the football league since but has always been fairly average. I’m a big fan of Browning, he’s quick, he’s strong and he’s confident on the ball and at just 23 will only get better.
Ex Sunderland 1 Sunderland 2
CB : John Egan – Brentford vs Lamine Kone
On paper if you look at their skills there’s no contest. Kone wipes the floor with Egan in terms of ability, but there’s no point having all that ability if you can’t put in the smallest amount of effort and Kone has shown time and time again that he just can’t be bothered. Egan was let go far too early by Sunderland in my opinion, without even playing a first team game. He’s played 36 games for Brentford since signing last year and has notched an impressive five goals.
Ex Sunderland 2 Sunderland 2
LB : Ross Wallace – Sheffield Wednesday vs Bryan Oviedo
A real fan favourite at Sunderland, known for his deadly left foot and exuberant celebrations. Another one let go far too soon in my opinion when you think of the impact he’s always had at both Burnley and now Sheffield Wednesday whilst we’ve rarely even had an out and out left back on our books since he left in 2009. I am also a fan of Oviedo to be fair, I think he’s got a great all round game but can be caught napping at the back on occasion, but he’s no Ross Wallace.
Ex Sunderland 3 Sunderland 2
RM : Seb Larsson – Hull vs Callum McMannaman
176 games for the lads, some stunning strikes, 100% effort every game, 2015-2016 player of the season and an ever present in the six in a row. He fell out of favour when Allardyce came in and never fully got back in to the swing of things, still think he’s a great player and although I do think McMannaman will come good once he gets a few more games under his belt I can’t look past Seb for this one.
Ex Sunderland 4 Sunderland 2
CM : Conor Hourihane – Aston Villa vs Didier Ndong
Another one who left without playing a game for the club, dead ball specialist Conor Hourihane has gone on to work his way up from the bottom to become a quality championship player and at 26 still has room to improve. He signed for Villa last season and after a slow-ish start he’s really found his feet this season and sits one goal off the top of the scoring charts on five - very impressive from central midfield. Ndong has been alright this season, he’s good at the simple stuff but never does anything special really does he? And when you think he’s our record signing and we let this lad go from the academy it’s a no brainer.
Ex Sunderland 5 Sunderland 2
CM : David Meyler – Hull vs Lee Cattermole
Meyler was a decent player for us but was never really broke into the first team because he was and in my opinion still is ‘just a worse Lee Cattermole’. Wouldn’t mind still having him as a back up over Rodwell and Gibson mind you.
Ex Sunderland 5 Sunderland 3
LM : Will Buckley – Bolton vs Aiden McGeady
Brought in from Brighton by ex boss Gus Poyet along with the equally useless Liam Bridcutt, he played 22 times for the lads and other than that assist as St James’ for Johnson which we thank him for dearly, he did absolutely nowt. McGeady has already far surpassed Buckley’s contribution and has probably been our best player all season.
Ex Sunderland 5 Sunderland 4
ST : Daryl Murphy – Nottingham Forest vs Lewis Grabban
Bit of a donkey at Sunderland, prolific ever since. Typical. I like Grabban, he showed signs of being equally prolific early on but then fizzled out and got injured. I do think Grabban could go on to be a success if he gets fit and we create the chances. But Murphy’s the leagues top scorer so I’ve got to go with him.
Ex Sunderland 6 Sunderland 4
ST : Steven Fletcher – Sheffield Wednesday vs James Vaughan
Lethal finisher. Great in the air. Fletcher’s time at Sunderland wasn’t unsuccessful by any means, but I can’t help but wonder how good he could’ve been if he hadn’t been plagued with injuries. Ten goals halfway through his first season before being ruled out for the remainder, he only scored another 14 in the next 3 years, with his injuries never allowing him to find consistency. He was released somewhat prematurely in my eyes, he could still have done a job, better than Anichebe and probably a bit less injury prone – which is really saying something about big Vic – and with 12 goals in 43 for Sheff Wed he’s proved he’s still got the scoring touch. James Vaughan won’t get 12 goals this season – he’ll be lucky to get 5, his effort can’t be faulted I just really think he lacks the quality to score goals in this league.
Final Score : Ex Sunderland 7 Sunderland 4
This would still be pretty annoying if it had been the case that these players in the ‘ex sunderland’ squad had wanted to leave or had been too good to play for Sunderland or whatever. But the fact is they were all either released or sold for a nominal fee because they were deemed surplus to requirements and we had better players at the club. So basically, what used to be our old, useless junk is now better than our current best XI, a real indication of the seemingly endless downward spiral the club are on.