SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Clarke sent to Coventry, Brown calls for Sunderland to relax

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Here’s what the Echo was reporting on SAFC 10 years ago today.

CLARKE SENT TO COVENTRY:

CLIVE CLARKE was due to go out on a month-long loan to Coventry City today, as Roy Keane continues with the restructuring of his Sunderland squad.

 Clarke was signed by chairman Niall Quinn little more than two months ago, in a move which saw fellow left-back George McCartney move to West Ham United.

 But the 26-year-old former Stoke City captain appears to be one of the players Keane was referring to last week when he said: “For some of the players here, the party is over” in the wake of the 4-1 defeat at Preston North End.

 Clarke played the second-half of Sunderland’s defeat against his former club in the Potteries last Tuesday.

 But he did not make the bench for the victory over Barnsley at the weekend and his place was taken by centre-half Danny Collins.

 In the second half of the 2-0 win over the Tykes, Collins moved to centre-half to replace the injured Kenny Cunningham and new signing Lewin Nyatanga, on-loan from Derby County, slotted in at left-back.

 With Nyatanga looking reasonably comfortable in that position, Keane now has adequate cover and has decided Clarke is surplus to requirements.

 Dublin-born Clarke made only four appearances for Sunderland – the games against Birmingham City, Plymouth Argyle, Preston North End and Stoke City – and was not on the winning side of any of them.

 Clarke gave away a penalty on his debut which led to Birmingham City winning the game 1-0 at the Stadium of Light and in the following game was responsible for Plymouth getting their opening goal in a 3-2 victory on Wearside.

 Fans have not warmed to the full-back and with his future now looking to be away from Sunderland, there will be few protests at the decision to let him go out on loan.

BROWN CALLS FOR CATS TO RELAX:

CHRIS BROWN is backing Sunderland to climb the Championship – if they relax.

 The striker’s second goal of the season sealed his side’s 2-0 home win over Barnsley on Saturday and he admitted it was a big relief after away defeats to Preston and Stoke.

 Roy Keane’s men – who had to wait until the 81st minute for Dean Whitehead to break the deadlock at the weekend – now prepare to visit basement club Hull City next weekend with Brown thanking the manager for his faith.

 He said: “The gaffer was happy with our effort in the first-half but felt the quality of some of our play was letting us down. His main message was for us to relax, and that definitely helped us.

 “It was a bit of a messy first half, but I felt we controlled the game more and more in the second half and their keeper stopped us from running away with it.

 “You could sense the relief on and off the pitch when Deano put us in front. It has been a bit tense, but if we can relax as we did in the second half I think we can show more of what we’re capable of.”

 Barnsley boss Andy Ritchie described his side’s performance as “Jekyll and Hyde” as they smothered stuttering Sunderland before the break but then fell away.

 Brown said: “Barnsley did well in the first half. After the last few results, we were hoping for an early goal.

 “We didn’t need telling that we had to improve after the last couple of games. We went into Saturday knowing that it was a must-win for us. We did what we had to and now we need to go to Hull and get a good away result under our belts.