In the first of a series of interviews, Michael Pearson, a long standing, original member of the team, now Assistant Coach, answers some in-depth questions.
Michael was selected by General Manager, Davinder Sangha, to join the team back in it’s debut game in 2002 and has remained a regular player in recent years, having been non-regular during the mid-years. And he was recently appointed as Assistant Coach to the team.
Q) William Harper, in one of his many outlandish, Pele type claims, once considered you “the best young player in Sunderland.” Do you think this has put pressure on you?
PEARSON: As we all know, William “Tash” Harper has a vast amount of experience and is very knowledgeable when it comes to football. Some might say he even played like Pele in his younger days. So when someone like that makes such a statement about a young player it does place a bit of pressure on a young person’s shoulders. Part of being a footballer is about learning to handle such pressures and I feel I owe a lot to Sassco General Manager, Davinder Sangha, for helping me to develop myself further, not just as a player but also as a person.
Q) You stopped playing for Sassco in the Saturday morning Tyne & Wear League after criticising the team heavily in the press. Manager, Sangha, once famously said, “If there was a Hell, it would have to freeze over” before considering you for the team again. Yet you came back. How do you feel the team has developed, as you are one of the original players?
PEARSON: Sassco originally started out with, on paper, a strong looking squad that could challenge for honours but after a poor start in the TW League things went tits up. Internal bickering between players and management alike looked like Sassco would be another one season team. Somehow, Sassco managed to keep on going for a few seasons but the same problems arose season after season and I became a bit of a non – regular. Sassco have never managed to sustain a settled consistent squad and have had many different coaches* giving it a go with very little success.
However, this season has seen a remarkable change in fortunes for this Sassco squad. Gone are the players who some might say caused problems and in came a few new and old faces. The managerial team has seen yet another change but this time has proved successful…so far.
Being an original member of the Sassco brand from the very first day I have seen many good, bad and very humorous times as well as many, many…many players come and go but I can now see that the team is now realising its true potential. On the field the team is beginning to play consistently well and have had some excellent results so far this season and can hopefully build on that.
Off the field Sassco is one the most organised and well ran clubs in local football. No one can argue with that. Everything from the superb website, trips abroad and links with various north east clubs and it is all down to Dov. He might not have the tactical nous to change a game but he can certainly make the Sassco brand bigger and better.
* Coaches since 2002 have been: Davinder Sangha (several long spells and various interim roles), Dave Watson, Dave Gourlay, Neil Richardson, William Harper and Wayne Greenwell.
Q) Its common knowledge that once you’re in a relationship with a girl, your football career effectively ends. What are your comments on this?
PEARSON: When I have stopped playing for Sassco previously it was down to a number of factors. I don’t want to dwell on the past, I just want to look to the future and drive Sassco forward. I take my role with the club very seriously.
Q) How do you feel about having your brother, Anthony, in the team?
PEARSON: I think it’s great to have young talent in the team. I feel he fits in very well into the way we play and has made the left hand side of midfield his own by being in excellent form recently, scoring 5 goals in his last 6 appearances. Obviously with him being my brother and me being part of the managerial team some might expect favouritism but I would like to go on record to say I am his biggest critic and we often have many disagreements with how we rate each other’s performances in games. No player is favoured more than others. Each game a team is picked that we think can win.
Q) Its quite obvious that General Manager, Davinder Sangha, considers you the true power behind Greenwell’s throne (you are currently classed as Assistant Coach) and Sangha has on several occasions attempted to undermine Greenwell with undue pressure and also a whispering campaign to install you as Team Coach. Do you think this is a good or bad thing and what are your comments on the situation?
PEARSON: Greenwell and I are working hard to make Sassco a force to be reckoned with and part of that is to make the squad a strong unit with a united team spirit and any whisper campaigns will undermine our hard work. After our recent run of form I feel as if the management team has answered their critics. Hopefully everyone squad member is on the same page now and we can continue to build on our form going into the New Year. We have competition for places now which is something we have never had before. Times ahead look bright for Sassco and I look forward working alongside Greenwell and hopefully take Sassco onto the next level.