After just a handful of games this season Sunderland were looking early favourites for the drop into League One, despite the arrival of the 'returning messiah' Niall Quinn, who headed up the consortium that had just bought the club. When he took the decision to appoint Roy Keane as manager, most predicted a storm. Instead, out went half the first team, and Sunderland went on to lift the Championship and head off into the 'promised land' of the Premiership. Wilson tells the story not only of Sunderland's astonishing turnround, but also the transformation of their manager. As a player Keane was notoriously critical of shortcomings in his team-mates. Yet as a manager, he has inspired his side and seems a natural in the role, thanks to his razor sharp wit and insight. In the course of covering the Championship for the Independent and Independent on Sunday, Jonathan Wilson (himself a Mackem) has followed Sunderland's rise closely. Here he not only probes behind the scenes at The Stadium of Light, and brings an in-depth analysis to the club's achievement, he also celebrates one of the most remarkable seasons in the club's history.
It is a football story as dramatic as any of recent years.
Jonathan Wilson is the Football Correspondent of the Financial Times and author of the critically acclaimed 'Behind the Curtain: Football in Eastern Europe'. He is also writing a history of football tactics.