Sunderland sacked Peter Reid on Monday the 7th October 2002.
After 10 months of poor results and poorer performances it was goodbye to the man that almost single handedly dragged them to the forefront of English football.
With O’Leary waiting to take on Newcastle, George Graham looking for the right opportunity and McCarthy fresh from triumphant World Cup endeavor, the Sunderland board scoured the nation and continents for a suitable replacement.
Their remit would surely be to find somebody to put some light back into Tyne & Wear, steady the ship and take them to where they belong, up there above Newcastle.
Its now Thursday 10th October and it seems that Sunderland’s search is over. After deliberating and reviewing the talent they had to hand they have announced that the new manager will be;
Ones initial reaction, once the fit of giggles have subsided is to think;
Okay so the guy was the last manager to win the old English division one with Leeds and before that, legend has it that he did fairly well with Sheffield Wednesday. But that was all circa 1992 this is now circa 2002.
After being sacked by Leeds in 1996 he joined the FA as Director of Football, subsequently sacked the U21’s manager that had failed to lose a game; Peter Taylor, and then managed to lose every game he managed, including by the biggest score in U21's history, before relinquishing the role to David Platt who has subsequently failed to lose.
When Kevin Keegan brought England's international team to its lowest point in my living memory after a home defeat against the Germans in Wembley’s last ever game, and subsequently resigned, who was there to step into the breach and steady the ship but the redoubtable Mr Wilkinson.
He managed to take a average team of class internationals and pitted against the mighty Finnish national team; managed to eek out a goalless draw. Not much has been heard from him since then, till now.
Newcastle fans must be chortling into their Tetley's, the FA are probably stunned at their good fortune in getting shot of someone they couldn’t sack but would have dearly loved to, Sunderland fans must be ruing the hard time they gave Reidy and the rest of the world must be thinking which newspapers the Sunderland board have been reading the last 10 years!!.
Of course the appointment of Cotterill as Wilko’s assistant appears to be a good shout. Despite being one of the most qualified coaches in English football (as is Wilko on paper) and doing some wonderful stuff in the lower leagues, the premiership is going to be a huge leap. One that by himself would be a challenge, guided by our Mr Wilkinson, well who knows.
As a footnote to this eulogy, I would not wish bad fortune on any man (or woman), so if the bloke manages to pull it off, which has got to start with a minimum 12 place this year, then good luck to the fella.
Born 1943 Sheffield
Allegedly Wilko's preferred method for training sessions is to mount speakers around the pitch and issue instruction to the players via microphone