Things are getting bleaker by the game for Sunderland right now, and with one win in 2022, automatic promotion is long gone, and we now find ourselves in a battle to stay in the play-offs. So what could be more welcome right now than a journey to the nearly unstoppable Wigan Athletic as we look to get our season back on track for the tenth time?
Sunderland and Wigan have shared an absolute boatload of daft lads over the years, the most notable probably being Lee (Lee Lee) Cattermole, but who wants to remember a player who, even now would infinitely improve our often non-existent midfield? No, instead we’ll have gander at some of the lesser remembered players of our recent past…who could also probably still do a job for us.
Arguably the most Gus Poyet signing of all time (discounting absolute knackers who were not Premier League level), Catalan midfield playmaker Jordi Gomez arrived on Wearside in May 2014, on a free from Wigan. His spell in Lancashire turned him into somewhat of a cult hero, hitting 17 goals in 127 games, and being part of the Latics’ historic FA Cup-winning team in 2013. Well, Gomez was the man subbed off for winning goalscorer Ben Watson, but it still counts.
However, Wigan got relegated the same season they won the cup, and after a single season in the Championship, he found himself back in the Premier League with Sunderland. In his first season he flicked between being a surprisingly important and absolutely atrocious player, frequently within the same match. I will personally never forget him attempting to take a quick free-kick, mere yards away from the left touchline of the pitch, only to literally roll the pall over the line for a completely perplexed looking Patrick van Aanholt (also played a bit for Wigan, but shush).
All in all, Gomez was a frustrating player for Sunderland, but he could take a great penalty and, arguably his most important contribution in red and white, it was his shot on goal at Goodison that hit Danny Graham in the danglers to give Graham his only league goal for the club. Lovely stuff.
After leaving Sunderland, Gomez took in a brief return to Wigan before heading back to Spain with Rayo Vallecano, and then embarking on a jaunt to Bulgaria with Levski Sofia. Incredibly though, now (only?) 36, Gomez is still playing, and is in his fourth season at reigning Cypriot champions Omonia, whom he also captains, and plays under the management of former Man Utd treble winner, Henning Berg.
Easily one of the hardest blokes in all of 90s/00s football, Irish midfielder Graham Kavanagh made his name as a tough tackling box-to-box midfielder with the likes of Middlesbrough, Stoke and Cardiff. What’s less well remembered about Kavanagh is during his 380 games for those clubs (between 1991-2005), he scored 64 goals, 33 of which for Stoke. Come 2005 and with Cardiff being in severe financial bother, the Irishman joined Wigan, where he helped steer them over the line for the remained of the 04/05 season seeing the Latic arrive in the Premier League for the first time.
Kavanagh played the majority of games in what was his first Premier League campaign since his debut season with Boro in 92/93 as Wigan avoided the drop, and in summer of 2006, then 32 years old, the midfielder joined Roy Keane’s Sunderland in a flurry of late signings (Connolly, Miller, Varga, Yorke, etc.).
Sadly, Kavanagh’s Sunderland career was seriously hampered by a couple of major injuries, which reduced his playing time to just 14 games in that Championship winning season, scoring a belter of a goal against Leeds in the process.
Upon leaving Wearside, Kavanagh enjoyed a loan to Sheffield Wednesday, before joining Carlisle, who he also endured a challenging spell as manager, getting relegated to League Two in 2014.
It would be remiss of me not to remind us all of the players who will inevitably be scoring against us this weekend, so just for the avoidance of any doubt – please be kind to us, lovely Max Power and every Twitter dar’s favourite, James McClean. And once again, all the best to Charlie Wyke as he continues his recovery.