SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Forget the hype!, Ifill linked with Sunderland

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

Monday, 21st November 2016, 10:00 am


Sunderland legend Gary Rowell says Black Cats players have to ignore the hype building up around Friday’s reunion of Mick McCarthy and Roy Keane.

The Sunderland managers past and present will meet this Friday for the first time since their infamous bust-up at the 2002 World Cup when Keane stormed out of the Republic of Ireland camp on the eve of the finals.

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And the reunion – after the row which split a nation – has extra spice because of both men’s involvement with the Wearside Club. Five of the players who played in Sunderland’s win over Colchester United at the weekend were players originally brought into the side by McCarthy.

But Rowell says it is vital that the Wearsiders refuse to be distracted by the side issues and focus entirely on trying to win which would put them in the top half of the table for the first time this season.

He said: “ We all know the only reason this game has been selected for Sky coverage and switched to a Friday night has been so that the media can make the most of one of the most famous and public fallings out in the history of the game.

“That’s fair enough I suppose, from their point of view. But personally, I’m not interested.

“From a footballing point of view, it’s an irrelevance and it’s important that Keane does not allow his players to get sucked into the hype.

“Take away the baggage between the two managers and what you have here is simply another game of football.

“And it is one that’s important to the aspirations of two big clubs.

“It’s sure to be a great atmosphere and with both teams having somewhat indifferent spells of late, the key to the game could be who shows the greater composure and concentration.

“For that reason, Sunderland’s players have to ignore all the publicity surrounding the game and just go out there looking to do a capable and professional job.

“There’s bound to be an exciting build-up to the game but for the players they must not get wrapped up in it and those players that Mick McCarthy have to put it totally out of their mind.

“It’s not about personalities. It’s about points.”


Sheffield United winger Paul Ifill looks like having to make a straight choice between a loan deal at Stoke City or Sunderland this week.

The 27-year-old right winger is free to move ahead of Thursday’s deadline for loan signings and sources in Sheffield says the Potters and the Black Cats have both declared their interest.

Leeds United have also been linked with a move for a player who has made only three Premiership appearances this season. And amove to Elland Road might be attractive for Ifill, who played under current Leeds boss Dennis Wise when the two were at Millwall. But Leeds have yet to make a firm offer for the player and at this stage it looks likely to come down to Stoke or Sunderland.

United boss Neil Warnock has not shut the door on Ifill’s United career.

Last season he made 39 appearances for the Blades and scored nine goals as the Yorkshire side won automatic promotion.

But this season he has fallen foul of a lack of form and a switch in United’s formation and tactics.

Warnock is prepared to let him leave on loan in a bid to recapture his previous form.

For Sunderland he would strengthen options on the right flank which have been limited since the departure on loan – ironically to Stoke City – of Liam Lawrence last week.

Lawrence was the only out-and-out right winger on Sunderland’s books.

And when Lawrence wasn’t starting games for the Wearsiders, Roy Keane experimented with central midfielders Liam Miller or Dean Whitehead on the flank and last week striker Stephen Elliott playing out wide.