SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Sunderland back on track, Alan Curbishley was a target - Niall Quinn

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


Late surge gets Lads back on track

SUNDERLAND left it late in notching up their third home win of the season, but the wait was worth it as fans celebrated euphorically a victory they feared would never come.

 Goals from Dean Whitehead, in the 81st minute, and Chris Brown, in the 88th, decided the game.

 But, in a barren first half of few chances, neither side looked good enough to take all the points.

 Sunderland manager Roy Keane started the game with four strikers, but goal scoring opportunities were few and far between for either side up until the break.

 In the second half, things opened up and gradually Sunderland dominated, even though Barnsley carved out the occasional chance.

 The deadlock was broken in the 81st minute when Nyron Nosworthy and Liam Lawrence linked well down the right wing and Whitehead was there in the box to sweep the full-back’s cross beyond Barnsley keeper Nick Colgan.

 The visiting goalkeeper had an excellent game and made a string of fine saves.

 But there was nothing he could do about Brown’s late strike a couple of minutes from time when he seized upon the cross of livewire substitute winger Ross Wallace and headed down into the turf and passed Colgan to make certain of victory which was much needed after successive away defeats to both Preston and Stoke City in the last week.


REVEALED: Niall’s fight for new boss

SUNDERLAND chairman Niall Quinn has admitted for the first time that Alan Curbishley would have been a target if the Black Cats had not secured Roy Keane as a manager.

 Quinn has confirmed that Curbishley was a possibility for the vacancy when he decided to take over running the team at the start of the season.

 Quinn took on the challenging roles of chairman and manager after number one choice Keane rejected his consortium’s initial advances in June and Martin O’Neill also turned the job down, eventually joining Aston Villa.

 Quinn – who had six games in charge before Keane took over last month – said: “We approached Roy pre-takeover. He was the person we wanted – we recognised him as the person who could bring the spirit back.

 “Martin O’Neill was there, but we felt it was a long shot and we approached Roy.

 “We had a very, very good meeting, but he came back and said he had committed to a coaching course in August and he also planned to venture around in Europe learning from other clubs.

 “We turned our attention to Martin O’Neill and had our sights on one or two other possibilities, but we did not quite get to where we wanted to be.

 “I took it on until we could convince him (Roy) or any other manager who could be available – one of them is still available.

 “There was a feeling if we could hold on until Alan Curbishley was available, we might go after him.

 Curbishley has been in self-enforced exile from football since leaving Charlton at the end of last season, spending a lot of time with his family in New Zealand.

 Sunderland soon decided they could not wait for him. Losing the first three games of the season – to Coventry, Birmingham and Plymouth – convinced Quinn and his consortium that they had to make a fresh play for Keane.

 “We started with three games in six days, which did not go well,” said the chairman in an interview with Manchester-based cable and satellite TV station Channel M, (Sky 203).

 “We made the phone call on the Monday and asked him (Keane) again. He said, yes, he fancied it, and we were back where we wanted to be.

 The reaction to Keane’s arrival vindicated his appointment, believes Quinn.

 “Martin O’Neill got one day’s publicity when he joined Aston Villa, Roy Keane got three weeks,” said the former Black Cats’ striker. “It shows how compelling a character he is. Technically, he is superb. He’s a workaholic. It is a pleasure to see someone with his standards at this club.”

 Quinn is convinced that he will never again tinker with team management. “Alex Ferguson has done 20 years and I did 20 days,” he quipped.

 “I have never spent any time planning to be a manager but I like to think it was the right thing to do at the time rather than give it (the Sunderland job) to a man who was lower down the list and who might not have connected with the people.

 “At least I did have one good day against West Brom!”