Press release from Sunderland AFC:
Jason McAteer accepted the captain’s armband from Mick McCarthy today and said: “I’m desperate to help him succeed.”
The Republic of Ireland midfielder will lead out Sunderland at Nottingham Forest on Saturday admitting that it will be a proud moment.
McAteer has captained Sunderland during most of their pre-season campaign, but it was not until this morning that he was told he would get the job on a permanent basis.
“It’s a job I will enjoy and I count it as an honour to captain Sunderland,” said the 32-year-old.
“I class Mick [McCarthy] as a friend as well as my manager and I want to see him succeed. As one of the more experienced players here and as captain, it’s my job to help the manager.
“I don’t see the job heaping more pressure on me. In fact, it’s the opposite – it means I will worry about other players more than myself.”
It is not the first time McCarthy has asked McAteer to do the skipper’s job for his team. For the former Liverpool man took control of the armband with Ireland at the start of last season.
And McAteer reckons Sunderland could do a lot worse than follow the “never say die” example set by Ireland over the years.
“We’ve always had a great camaraderie with Ireland,” he said. “We realised that we weren’t world-class and we got into winning ways through hard work and honesty. No-one let anyone down.
“I can see that being installed here. All successful managers have been great man-managers and Mick has got that. He also knows how to win.”
McAteer says Sunderland have just one thing on their mind on the eve of the new season. “Promotion,” he said. “You don’t start a season aiming for mid-table. We are aiming for promotion.
“The fans have got to stick with us, that’s important. As much as it’s a cliche, the fans are a goal head start here.”
Jason McAteer will be writing an exclusive column on safc.com this season.
McAteer has not, however, been seleted to represent his country to play against Australia on 19th August, with manager Brian Kerr citing the player’s lack of fitness: “Jason hasn’t played that many games in the last season. I think I saw his last game which was against Fulham but he’s been struggling with injuries. But Jason is a good player and we all know he’s scored some vital goals and he’s certainly not out of my plans.”