Our love/hate for Kieran Richardson

Readers of a certain age may remember the 1990s cartoon Hey Arnold. A central character in that was Helga, who was constantly torn between declaring her love for Arnold and doing all in her power to hide it. For us, there are similar feelings when it comes to Kieran Richardson (the post title also refers to the hit Irish drama Love/Hate, with the current season finishing tomorrow night).

When Richardson signed for Sunderland in 2007, he asked for, and was given, the number 10 shirt (Roy Keane mentions the request in passing in his new book, but overall he is fairly complimentary of Richardson). He wore 10 for his first three seasons there but – as had happened during his time at Manchester United – he played more than a few games at left-back.

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The number 10 at left-back is incredibly incongruous, of course, and eventually Richardson himself realised this, as he switched to number 3 for the 2010-11 season. Clearly, he was aware of what was right and what was wrong.

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Alas, his penchant for playing in the wrong positions remained and he flitted between left-back and left-midfield during 2010-11, playing in the more advanced role so often that he took 11 for 11-12, despite having the odd shift at left-back still.

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So, throwing it open to the floor – does he deserve credit for wanting the wear the right numbers, or is he worthy of disdain for ending up looking out of place? At both Fulham and Aston Villa, he has sought to cover himself by wearing numbers in the teens, which is probably the best compromise.

4 thoughts on “Our love/hate for Kieran Richardson

  1. Do we know each shirt number was his choice? If memory serves, Sunderland get through a lot of managers. Could it not be each giving him the number that they see as most suitable for the plans they have for him for the season ahead? And is it also possible that a player came in and had a similar request re the number 10 when negotiating their signature?

    One of my favourite former Celtic players, Danny Fox, I believe wore 11 and I had no problem with him wearing it at left-back. The flank is the important detail here and a LB wearing 11 just tells me they like to go forward/are adept at wing play. 3 up front, and 10 at left back, are a little harder to stomach, but 3 on the left-wing has been made somewhat passable by Gareth Bale.

    Incidentally, Danny Fox is one of my favourite ex-Celtic players – despite only being there for a few months – because he turned out in the pre-season Wembley Cup on the day he signed with no number on his shirt – as hooped Celtic shirts should be worn (on this occasion the Bumblebee Mk II).

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  2. Thanks for the comment, Jay.

    Steve Bruce was the Sunderland manager during all of these changes and nobody else moved from one 1-11 number to another, which is what led me to believe that Richardson was the driver. He spoke in 2010 of being inspired by Maicon’s full-back play so presumably he chose 3 to feel like a ‘real’ full-back.

    When Richardson vacated 10, Jordan Henderson moved from 16 to take it. Asamoah Gyan arrived in 2010-11 and had to take 33 but he inherited 3 when Richardson went to 11, which had been worn by both Darren Bent and Sulley Muntari in the previous campaign.

    Celtic should of course still have numberless shirts. They should return to them and tell anyone who demands a switch back to stuff themselves. The numbers on the shorts were more than big enough for identification purposes.

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  3. Thanks for showing your working. I do agree it’s unlikely that Richardson had to make way for Jordan Henderson, but negotiation, in the most casual sense, between Richardson and Gyan, may have led to the Ghanaian eventually taking his preferred number – which is perhaps article-worthy, if we throw Mohamed Kallon and Nicklas Bendtner in with it.

    For the sake of answering your question, let’s assume Richardson was indeed the driving force behind each shirt number change, and I would say that he should be (app)lauded for ensuring that he held left-sided numbers throughout (as he would be most likely to play in that area), with even the number 10 being at one time traditionally worn by the inside-left. However, could he have undone all his great work by allowing, as mentioned, a striker to carry the number 3?

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  4. Gyan had number 3 cut into his hair on both sides of his head and also wears a No.3 medallion. He says, “Three is the shirt I wore as a teenager in Ghana. It is a powerful number. I’ll give you an example. If you are lifting something heavy, you count to three before you lift. If you want to warn someone, you warn them once, then twice and the third time you take action.”

    Oh and as De la Soul said in 1990, Three is the magic number.

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