Early business

by Ashley Houghton

Look back on some early transfers from past years.

Following the announcement of Paolo Di Canio’s first five signings as Sunderland boss we look back at five early transfers from recent years.

5. Tommy Miller

Local lad Tommy Miller joined the Black Cats in June 2005 as Mick McCarthy’s side prepared for life in the Premier League.

Miller signed from Ipswich Town and went on to make 35 appearances in his two years on Wearside.

And, despite relegation from the top-flight in his first campaign, the Shotton Colliery-born midfielder was a hit with fans after scoring in a Wear-Tees derby victory at the Riverside Stadium

Injuries restricted Miller to just four appearances during the 2006-07 campaign and, as a result, he returned to Ipswich.

4. Stephen Elliott

After progressing through the youth ranks at Manchester City, Stephen Elliott joined the Black Cats in June 2004.

Elliott’s progress at Manchester City was hampered by injury but he made an instant impact on Wearside after scoring on his debut against Crewe Alexandra.

In his first campaign the Republic of Ireland international bagged 16 goals in 46 games as McCarthy’s side bounced back from play-off heartbreak the season before to return to the top-flight.

The following season proved frustrating for Sunderland and Elliott’s two goals in 16 games epitomised a difficult campaign for the club.

The Dublin-born striker scored five times in 26 games during 2006-07 season as Roy Keane led the Black Cats back to the top flight.

Following promotion, Elliott left Sunderland for Wolverhampton Wanderers.

3. Nyron Nosworthy

Cult hero Nyron Nosworthy signed for Sunderland in 2005 on a free transfer from Gillingham.

‘Nuggy’ as he was known on Wearside was thrown straight into Mick McCarthy’s side for the 2005-06 Premier League campaign and played 32 times in all competitions in his debut season.

The following campaign coincided with an upturn in form for the Jamaican who was voted Player of the Season after making 29 appearances under Roy Keane.

A further 31 appearances were added to Nosworthy’s tally during the 2007-08 campaign as Roy Keane’s side finished 15th in the top flight.

Nosworthy, who now plays for Watford, made 20 appearances as Sunderland dropped to 16th in the table the following season.

Steve Bruce took charge ahead of the 2009-10 campaign and Nosworthy found first-team opportunities hard to come by; after playing just 13 times in the opening months of the campaign, Nosworthy joined Sheffield United on loan.

He spent two years with the Blades before returning to Wearside in 2011 only to be loaned to Watford shortly after, a move he would make permanent at the end of the 2011-12 season.

2. Dean Whitehead

Dean Whitehead joined Sunderland from Oxford United in June 2004 for a reported fee of £150,000.

The young midfielder was added to Mick McCarthy’s side as the Black Cats looked to avenge play-off heartache from the season before.

Whitehead played 34 games in his opening campaign, scoring six goals as Sunderland won the Championship title by seven points.

The Abingdon-born midfielder was ever-present during the 2005-06 campaign with 41 appearances in all competitions; he played more games than any other Sunderland player.

Whitehead’s fitness was a large contributor to his success on Wearside as he played 46 of Sunderland’s 48 games during the campaign, chipping in with four goals.

An early injury in the 2007-08 campaign meant that Whitehead would make only 28 appearances before he added another 38 appearances in 2008-09 under Roy Keane.

He left for Stoke in 2009 and went on to play 160 times for the Potters before being released in 2013.

Following his release Whitehead joined Middlesbrough in July.

1. Seb Larsson

Swedish midfielder Seb Larsson joined the Black Cats on a free transfer from Birmingham City in July 2011.

Signed by his former Birmingham boss Steve Bruce, Larsson made an instant impact with a spectacular goal on his debut in a 1-1 draw at Liverpool.

During his first season on Wearside, Larsson made 39 appearances, scoring eight goals including a winner against Blackburn Rovers in Martin O’Neill’s first game in charge.

He also featured in every game of the 2012-13 season, scoring one of the goals of the season as Sunderland hammered West Ham United 3-0 at the Stadium of Light.

Larsson has been capped 55 times by his country, scoring on six occasions.