Friday, September 01, 2006

Saint Bernard?

Following yesterday's shambles, there is one (very dim) ray of light to report on: we've re-signed Olivier Bernard. As a player who had been released by Rangers and was a free agent, Bernard was allowed to sign after the midnight transfer deadline.

I'm not alone in thinking that Bernard was often a terrific player for us - sometimes positionally naive (the FA Cup defeat by Wolves in 2003 stands out), but always committed, a fierce tackler and often able to contribute positively in forward areas. His first spell at the club ended in January 2005 on a sour note, though, with him demanding more money than we were prepared to offer him (he had almost jumped ship in 2002 to West Ham - managed by one Glenn Roeder - because of the lure of improved terms), and since then he's drifted from club to club (Southampton, Birmingham, Bolton, Rangers, Sheffield Utd), his career prospects disappearing down the drain.

In some ways, then, it's a backwards step for us, and he's certainly no Wayne Bridge. But we were desperate for defensive cover. Anything would be better than Celestine Babayaro, and if Bernard can recapture his Toon form then he'll be back in the side before long. (Not to mention back frequenting the pubs and clubs in my home town Morpeth, as was his wont in his first spell...)

However, regardless of the Bernard deal, it's no great surprise to discover that we've been named the biggest losers of transfer deadline day by the BBC's Phil McNulty. Sunderland don't have the monopoly on being a national laughing stock, sadly.


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