What happened to Sunderland's final Premier League squad in 2017
It has been three years out of the top flight for the Black Cats, but what happened to the players who played in their last Premier League appearance away to Chelsea?by Karl Matchett
Sunderland have been out of the Premier League for the past three seasons, suffering relegation at the end of 2016/17 and then again the following campaign, leaving them in League One for the past two years.
Promotion back to the top flight is the eventual aim for the Black Cats, but it’ll be a long road back given the need to gradually improve the squad and work their way back up the pyramid. Their starting line-up has changed an enormous amount since their top-flight days, while even then it proved not strong enough to keep them in the Premier League.
The final game was a dismal ending to their time at the top, a 5-1 loss at Chelsea in what was the final game at the club of Stamford Bridge legend John Terry. So what happened to the Sunderland players on show on that day back in May 2017?
The goalkeeper left that summer, moving to Everton where he has since been No. 1. Pickford also became England’s first choice and played at the 2018 World Cup — the undoubted success story of Sunderland’s final Premier League lineup.
Wing-back Manquillo completed his one-year loan from Atletico Madrid and returned to the Spanish club, but was soon back in the north-east — this time at Newcastle. He signed a permanent deal with them that same summer, for around £4.5million, and remains a squad option at St. James’ Park.
O’Shea signed a one-year contract extension with Sunderland after their relegation, joining the club in the Championship. Matters didn’t improve, of course, and he made the move to Reading instead, signing a one-year deal at the Madejski Stadium. He retired at the end of the 2019 campaign and has since joined the backroom staff as a coach at the club.
Jones was another who accepted the initial drop with the Black Cats, being in and out of the team during 17/18. Thereafter he joined League One side Rotherham, where he has spent the past two campaigns coming in and out of the team at full-back.
That 5-1 drubbing at Stamford Bridge was the final appearance of his long career. The England international defender had only joined on a short-term deal, but age and injury meant the end of the line that summer. He has since coached with England Under-21s and Manchester City’s youth teams and works for the latter as a player loanee liaison.
Wing-back Oviedo dropped down the leagues with Sunderland, but was in and out of the team in 18/19 and left last summer to join FC Copenhagen. He’s a squad option in Denmark, but featured in Europe this season against the likes of Celtic and Dynamo Kyiv.
Swedish midfielder Larsson switched clubs after the first relegation, joining Hull City in the Championship. He played only a single season there though, before making a summer switch to AIK in his home country. He has been there since and is a regular first-team starter.
Former England international Rodwell saw his career derailed as quickly as Sunderland’s prospects as a top team were. He barely featured in the Championship and joined Blackburn in 2018 after his Sunderland contract was terminated, but stayed only a single season before leaving again on a free. After being without a club for several months, he joined Premier League side Sheffield United in January of this year, but has only played once.
Tough-tackling Cattermole was another who dropped down the leagues with the Black Cats, playing in both the Championship and League One. He eventually ended a 10-year stay at the club with a move to the Dutch Eredivisie last summer, joining VVV-Venlo on a one-year deal.
Belgian attacker Januzaj was only a youngster on loan during the relegation campaign, but left Manchester United shortly after the end of the season. He has since been in Spain with Real Sociedad, where he has had mixed fortunes. Now 25, Januzaj has suffered several injuries and is in and out of the side and has not yet fulfilled his early promise.
One of the more surprising transfers of the summer of 2017, Borini joined AC Milan on loan and completed a permanent deal the following summer. Often more of a hard-working winger than actual striker at Milan, he completed a January free transfer move to Hellas Verona and has moved back into a central attacking role.
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The only player who got on the pitch that day still at the club, Gooch is now 24 and a key starter for Sunderland on the wing.
The last late sub of the season, Gibson departed Sunderland in 2018 and has since featured for Wigan and Salford, where he was released earlier this month.