Former Sunderland manager Mick McCarthy says winning promotion to the Premier League as Championship title winners during the 2004/05 season is his favourite moment from his time as Black Cats manager.
McCarthy took over at the Stadium of Light in March 2003, but was unable to save Sunderland from relegation from the Premier League in his first few months in charge, before missing out on an immediate promotion after a play-off defeat to Crystal Palace in the 2003/04 campaign.
The 2004/05 season however, saw Sunderland seal their return to English football’s top-flight in emphatic style, winning promotion as champions ahead of second-placed Wigan, with West Ham coming up via the play-offs.
Perhaps not surprisingly, that season is one that still holds fond memories for McCarthy, and speaking about his favourite moment from his time at the Black Cats on former Sunderland player Matt Piper’s “Positive Vibes” Podcast, the 61-year-old revealed: “Getting promoted. For obvious reasons but it was on the back of the World Cup in 2002 and I joined in 2003.
“We got relegated, we lost 11 games on the bounce and then we lost in the playoffs the next season. So there was some real highs and lows so eventually getting promoted, it was a great season.”
Indeed, it seems the circumstances surrounding that promotion made the success even sweeter for McCarthy, who added: “With the signings that we made – begging, stealing, borrowing, free transfers and that – it was a great achievement.
“So it is getting promoted back to the Premier League.”
Following that promotion in 2005, McCarthy would last just a few more months at Sunderland, eventually being sacked in March 2006 with the club bottom of the Premier League table, 16 points from safety and with ten games of the season remaining.
I don’t think there is any surprise with McCarthy’s selection here in fairness.
Winning trophies and promotions always brings about memorable moments in the career of any player or manager, and McCarthy’s comments here do appear to show why this one meant so much to him.
Indeed, given the success he enjoyed with Sunderland here, and the run to the FA Cup semi-finals they made un 2004, it is perhaps no surprise that McCarthy seemingly remains a popular figure around the Stadium of Light.