The games are starting to come both thick, and, if the popular cliché is to be believed, fast. The Lads head down to That London to take on QPR in a game which is apparently acceptable to charge fans a mortgage instalment for a ticket.
Sunderland and QPR have not shared a handsome selection of players. By that, I mean, there’s been almost 40 of them, and outside of those who have already been treated to their own article, the list is somewhat lacking in inspiration, but we might as well start with one who will be forever loved by Sunderland fans for one specific moment.
Yes, it’s the massive, defensive Maradona himself, Nedum Onuoha.
Onuoha started his career back in 2004 coming through the Man City academy in the days before they had more money and lawyers than sense. Steady appearances for City over his first six years as a professional, Onuoha was a regular in the England U21s until a knee ligament injury derailed his progression in April 2008. His comeback the following season was stop-start owing to further injury worries, but it’s easy to forget that when he was fit, he was a regular feature of Roberto Mancini’s first season at the Etihad.
However, once daft/blood/rule bending money was being pumped into City for fun, Onuoha found his chances limited in the first team, and so he joined Sunderland on loan in August 2010. Strong, reliable, and quicker than most defenders we ever saw during our last Premier League stint (probably still is, too), Onuoha proved to be a useful addition anywhere across the back four, but also took up the occasional defensive midfield role in Steve Bruce’s exciting squad – before said Wallsender knackered the whole thing up.
But of course, the crowning moment for Onuoha came at Stamford Bridge on the 14th November 2010. Sunderland were making a good name for themselves in a battling performance, when, just on the stroke of half time, Onuoha took it upon himself to dance through no fewer than six Chelsea players and casually slot the ball past Petr Cech as if it was the most natural thing in the world. The game may be more widely remember for Bolo Zenden’s dad-dancing when celebrating Asamoah Gyan’s goal, or the very fact that we annihilated the Blues 3-0, but Onuoha’s goal was truly absurd.
In truth, the rest of Onuoha’s time on Wearside passed by without much to note – helping Sunderland survive comfortably in the end, but for whatever reason, he was not signed permanently. Instead, the defender spent the six months on the peripherals of the Man City squad, making only one further league appearance for them, before joining QPR in January 2012.
With QPR, Onuoha endured two relegations and enjoyed promotion winning the 2014 play-offs and is still held in high regards by their fans for his six and a half years in the capital. He was awarded the club captaincy at the start of the 15/16 season, and although the club remained stuck in the second tier, he was awarded the club’s Player of the Year award in his final year, before leaving in 2018.
Upon leaving QPR, Onuoha moved over to the MLS with Real Salt Lake, where he had a tasty spat with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, then playing for LA Galaxy, and not available for Martin Bain and the Sunderland scouting team of 2017. After his contract expired in 2020, Onuoha announced his retirement at the age of 34.
Now, I’m not saying that Nedum Onuoha was the modern Franz Beckenbauer, but this chap made him look like it.
Joel Lynch was by dictionary definition, a Championship plodder. He came through at Brighton (who were immediately relegated to League One, coincidence?), moved to Nottingham Forest for four years, then on to Huddersfield before arriving at QPR in 2016. None of those teams came anywhere near promotion in his time on the books, as the one-time Welsh international made a job of standing there, occasionally hoying in a tackle.
At QPR he was again a regular, never making fewer than 25 appearances in any of his 3 seasons, and, incredibly, cost them £1.2m. I have my doubts that any QPR fan would be able to say anything more interesting about him than that. Following his release, he joined Sunderland and was seen as a bit of experience and strength to add to a defence which had failed to achieve promotion and he helped in almost no way whatsoever.
I can’t tell you anything positive Lynch brought to the Sunderland side in any of his 16 league appearances, and in fact, made something of a habit of looking like his soul had just escaped his body any time we conceded a goal. Joel Lynch was a bookmark in the terrible League One chapter of the history of Sunderland AFC.
Promptly released in the summer of 2020, Lynch joined League Two Crawley and has been there ever since, notably not getting promoted, again. Turgid.