Sunderland has been host to a plethora of football greats such as Charlie Hurley, Kevin Phillips and Brian Clough. This author has bore witness to some decent football in his life time as a Black Cats fan, enjoying the Quinn-Phillips partnership, the spectacular aerial saves of Thomas Sorenson (a certain derby penalty being a particular highlight), and the more recent ‘scoring for fun’ antics of Darren Bent.
To say that Sunderland have had their fair share of dreadful players would be an understatement; there were two seasons in the past decade that saw the Black Cats break the Premier League record for lowest points, which is currently held by Derby County. Jeff Whitley, Andy Gray, Kelvin Davis and Greg Halford are all worthy of places on a team sheet of Sunderland Stinkers, but unfortunately (for Sunderland fans) they don’t cut the mustard for this elite list of top 5 worst signings.
Peter Reid will always be remembered as the man that rescued Sunderland from lower league obscurity. The Everton legend helped the Black Cats to their first ever Premier League campaign and developed a side that would compete at the top of the table for two consecutive seasons. Reid is also responsible for four of the signings (one is from a caretaker manager) that made this list. This is not due to a lack of trying by the author to fit in some of the inexplicably rank purchases of the Roy Keane era, or the dirge that entered the ranks via the whole hearted, light pocketed Mick McCarthy. Granted, Jeff Whitley and Andy Gray are two of the worst players I’ve seen in a red and white shirt, but the majority of those selected barely got the chance to display their inept footballing skills because they were THAT bad.
Prepare to be dazzled by the array of talentless wonders that will always be remembered by Sunderland fans for the wrong reasons.
5. Lilian Laslandes
The partnership between Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn flourished during the 1999/2000 Premier League season, but with the latter reaching the closing stages of his career, Peter Reid was forced to invest in a new striker.
Lilian Laslandes became Sunderland’s most expensive player ever in 2001 when he signed from Bordeaux for £3.6million. The Frenchman had scored 47 in 119 games for Les Girondins and also boasted powerful physical attributes and a reasonably tall height of 6 foot 1.
Laslandes went on to score one goal for the Wearsiders in the league cup, and a big fat zero in 12 Premiership games. This was blamed largely on Reid’s decision to play Laslandes as a target man, though his failure to make any impact whatsoever in the short time he was given to establish a Premier League career may have something to do with it. The physical nature of the striker had been hyped up by Reid and the press, but it wasn’t evident on the playing field.
Laslandes’ career fizzled out as he returned to Ligue 1 for Nice. He then retired in 2008 to become a handball player for Bordeaux.
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