Here’s what the Echo was reporting on Sunderland 10 years ago.
EVANS PLAYS THE WAITING GAME
Defender says he has unfinished business at Sunderland
JONNY EVANS admits he is torn between his desire to make it at Manchester United and the “unfinished business” he has with Sunderland.
The centre-back was a huge success on loan with the Black Cats, but expects to start pre-season back at United.
He insists he has not discussed with Roy Keane or Sir Alex Ferguson the possibility of a return to the Stadium of Light next season. But his time on Wearside has left an indelible mark on the young Northern Ireland international.
He said: “It’s been a terrific experience being here at Sunderland.
“If Sunderland and Manchester United sorted it out, I wouldn’t have to think twice about coming back here – I’d jump at it.
“I’ve absolutely loved my time here. If I go back to Manchester United then I will be delighted, but I still feel like I’ve got unfinished business with Sunderland too.
“After helping the lads get into the Premiership, of course I would like to be a part of it next season. But my main aim, as I’ve always said, is to play for Manchester United and if they want me to stay there then I am happy to do that.”
Keane has made it clear he would leave former mentor Ferguson to conclude this season before bothering to ask about Evans and Danny Simpson.
And Evans said: “The manager hasn’t said anything about what might happen next season. I haven’t spoken to him about it.
“During the season, these things have not been talked about and it’s something that would be discussed later in the summer.
“I think that, in terms of what happens with Danny and myself, the manager is going to have to wait until Manchester United’s season has finished.
“Sir Alex Ferguson will want to sort out his plans for next season first – I’m not sure that he knows what will happen just yet, either.”
And it could be a long wait.
“I think we will both start pre-season with Manchester United, whatever else happens,” added Evans. “We will go back as Man United players.
“What will happen then – whether we stay there, move on or go out on loan – I just don’t know.
“As far as coming back to Sunderland is concerned, I don’t think anything would be decided until the very last minute.
“You only need to look at what has happened recently with the injuries that Manchester United have had. If myself and Danny had been there land this situation had developed, I doubt very much that we would have been allowed to come here.
“So that just goes to show how quickly things can change.”
WILL KEANE GO DUTCH IN TRANSFER MARKET?
Like the first lambs of spring, today sees the first player Sunderland have been strongly linked with this summer: obscure Dutch defender Ruud Knol.
Stories in the morning papers suggest Sunderland have been looking at the Vitesse Arnhem defender. Or his team-mate Theo Janssen.
Whether or not Roy Keane is thinking of going Dutch remains to be seen but Knol and Janssen will be the first of many names thrown Sunderland’s way as the rumour mill grinds into operation.
Keane is not the sort of manager to confirm an interest one way or another in a player until he’s actually unveiled at a press conference.
And that stance will give free rein to wild speculation as a summer gets under way in which Sunderland have signalled their intent of becoming major players in the Premiership transfer market.
The 26-year-old Knol, a former Holland Under 21 captain would certainly welcome an approach from Wearside. A host of English football scouts were at the midweek play-off game between Vitesse Arnhem and NAC Breda and Sunderland were represented among them.
Knol told Dutch radio afterwards: “A move to England would be fantastic because it’s a league which attracts me. Sunderland have watched me on several occasions and they are a good team. However, there are more teams after me.”
Knol is out of contract this summer and is looking for a major move.
He was a bright prospect at Under 21 level but has been held back by injuries for several seasons and although he played 23 times this season, he played just a handful of games in the preceding four seasons.
Midfielder Jansen has been strongly linked with a move to Spurs and after seven years at Arnhem seems certain to be on the move with White Hart Lane his likely destination.
He told Dutch newspapers: “I have always said I would like to play somewhere else at some stage, if a nice club comes along. Tottenham are a nice club.
Sunderland have also been linked with Roy Keane’s former team-mate Andy Cole, who returned to Portsmouth after a successful loan spell at Birmingham City.
City boss Steve Bruce was unwilling to break his pay structure for Cole but the ex-Manchester United striker does not see eye-to-eye with Portsmouth boss Harry Rednapp and will be offloaded at some stage this summer.