The east end of London has always been tagged as an area that has produced raw English talent. The stars of 1966, Sir Geoff Hurst and Bobby Moore, all come from there, as do current Premiership greats such as Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole and John Terry.
Sunderland’s left-winger, Kieran Richardson, also hails from east London, but unfortunately for him that is the only thing he has in common with the players mentioned. Whilst the others have had a glittering career on the pitch, Richardson has struggled to make his way up the ladder. When he started training professionally with West Ham, who have an outstanding academy, and then got noticed by Manchester Untied, the trend was set for another West Ham youngster, just like Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick, to go on to great success at England’s biggest club.
Richardson was always a bit part player at United. He stayed at the club for five years, and although he made a total of 81 appearances, these were mainly when injuries occurred to key players, and he mostly started in League and FA Cup games. To stay at such a club for a lengthy period of time, and not make any significant strides towards becoming a great, would have frustrated manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
If Richardson’s promise as a youngster was the first step, then overcoming mental barriers might have been the reason why he stalled at United, before completing a move to Sunderland. This is in reference to Roy Keane, the ex-United captain, and his infamous blasting of the club’s youngsters in an MUTV appearance. Richardson was one of the players singled out by the fiery Irishman. Destiny always plays a part in football, and one of the most unimaginable things would have been Roy Keane returning to United to make Richardson his first major signing when he was manager of Sunderland. How much would Keane’s comments have affected him, and would he able to work under someone who had spoken so negatively about him?
Richardson’s lack of class to be a United player meant that the move to Sunderland was inevitable. He would have had to blank the Roy Keane that he saw at United out of his mind, and prove to his new manager that he could become a top player. Richardson has always been questioned about his motivation and desire. To not claim a regular starting place until he joined Sunderland shows the lack of progress he had as a player before then.
His transfers in his career raise an interesting observation. He played his best football in a loan spell at West Brom, and now has the ability to influence games at Sunderland. This shows that he is suited to clubs that have struggled in the Premiership. Maybe he is appreciated more by those fans. Richardson’s problems with motivation, coming from an attitude problem, suggest that he was never going to make it at a big club just like the other east Londoners. This is one of those occasions where a player going to a big club proved to be a hindrance on his career.