SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Arnau desperate to impress, Ball a wanted man

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


Spaniard aims to impress

MIDFIELDER Arnau is desperate to impress boss Roy Keane after falling down the pecking order since the Irishman arrived.

 The former Barcelona B man was red-carded during Sunderland’s Carling Cup exit at lowly Bury and Niall Quinn announced afterwards that he would be stepping down as manager.

 Arnau was suspended for three games, but has not managed to force his way into contention so far in the two games he has been available under Keane.

 Grant Leadbitter got the nod against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday in the wake of Graham Kavanagh’s six-week injury lay-off, and took the chance by scoring the winner.

 Arnau, who was 25 yesterday, said: “The red card came at a very bad time for me. I might have had a chance to stay in the team if I played well at Bury, but the chance was taken away.

 “Of course I would love to have been given the chance of Saturday.

 “ I came here to play and to improve, but the suspension held me back and I need to impress the new manager now.”

 Arnau was signed just a couple of weeks before chairman Quinn announced he would be relinquishing his dual role as manager to appoint a new boss.

 Last Saturday’s game at Ipswich offered Roy Keane first opportunity to select the Spaniard, but he was not included in the squad of 16 and also missed out against the Owls.

 Arnau said: “It is not my job to go asking the manager what my job will be for the club now that he is in charge.

 “I have been here only one month and I am still learning about English football.

 “It is great for us to have a coach like Roy Keane and I must respect his decisions, but do everything I can on the training pitch to show him I can do a job for him and the club.”

 Arnau says Championship football is very different from what he is used to at home.

 He added: “The English game is much quicker and the only way I will improve here is to play. I haven’t played much since coming, but if the manager wants me to play it will be no problem.”


KEVIN BALL is the man that Darlington want to succeed suspended boss David Hodgson.

 And over the next few days, the Quakers will try to persuade the Sunderland legend to swap the Stadium of Light for the Darlington Arena, hoping to have a new management team in place for Rochdale’s visit on Friday.

 It was unclear this morning whether Darlington had made an official approach to Sunderland for permission to speak to the club’s assistant academy manager.

 But sources at the County Durham club confirmed that Ball is top of their wish list with the former Sunderland skipper wanted to form a management team with ex-Sunderland team-mate, Darlo’s popular youth team coach Martin Gray.

 Hodgson has been suspended for two weeks pending an inquiry into Darlington’s recent form and alleged contact between the manager and League One club Bournemouth, who are looking for a new manager.

 It is a messy situation for all concerned but it could be swiftly resolved if Ball takes up the challenge over the next few days.

 If Darlington do not succeed in getting Ball, there will be plenty of other would-be managers of a club which has comfortably the biggest ground in League Two and now has solid financial backing.

 Former Darlington boss Brian Little has thrown his hat into the ring, 15 years after leaving a successful Darlington for Leicester City.

 Peter Beagrie at Bradford City and Quakers’ favourite Craig Liddle, currently a coach at Darlington College, are also said to be among the interested.

 Boston United boss Steve Evans has been linked with the job because of his previous connection with a prominent member of the Darlington board but he has moved to quash the rumours.

 He said: “I told the fans a few weeks ago that I wasn’t going to Darlington and nothing has changed.”