When Sunderland take on Charlton Athletic in the League One play-off final next weekend, there will be a player on the opposite team that Jack Ross wanted at the Stadium of Light this season.
Lyle Taylor was a target for Sunderland in the summer. After an impressive season with AFC Wimbledon, the Black Cats were just one of several teams keen on the Montserrat international.
He was available on a free transfer and Sunderland will have felt confident about getting their man. However, he chose Charlton. He eventually explained that it was Charlton boss Lee Bowyer who convinced him to stay in London. He told the South London Press that he believed Bowyer would ‘back me to the hilt’, and decided on The Valley.
“I thought for me to get to the Championship that I could go up to Sunderland, who are expected to win the league because of the size of their budget, or I could try and do something under somebody [Bowyer] who I knew would back me to the hilt.
“And I knew any word he would have to say about me, as long as I did my job, would change peoples’ perception about me.
“So I knew playing under Bow was the right thing to do.”
Sunderland will now hope that does not come back to haunt them. Taylor has been in fine form this season, scoring 25 goals in 43 games. One of those was against Sunderland on the opening day of the season.
If he can take his tally to 26 or more, condemning Sunderland to another season in the third-tier, it will undoubtedly justify his decision.