Crowd favourite Julio Arca has revealed how he was on the verge of leaving Sunderland – but incoming manager Mick McCarthy persuaded him not to, and how he thinks the club’s future is looking better for having McCarthy at the helm.
Arca signed for Sunderland in July 2000, for £3.5m from Argentinos Juniors and quickly established himself in the team, but after the sacking of Peter Reid, the derision that the club attracted after continuing bad results under Howard Wilkinson, and relegation earlier this year, the young Argentinian wanted to leave during the summer to help his career. It hadn’t helped that both Reid and Wilkinson constantly played him out of position at left-wing.
Julio told the Sunday Sun, “I thought I would have to leave Sunderland to make things happen for me. Last season was very difficult for me with injuries and not being in the team, I think I only played six or seven games so I did not feel good about things.
But with McCarthy’s appointment in March this year, the situation improved. “Since Mick McCarthy has been manager everything changed – straight away in the summer he told me he wanted me to be in his team.
“My opinion of him is very high – and I think things will be better for the future of Sunderland with him as manager because he knows what he wants from the players, knows how to get it from them and is very good for the fans too.”
When McCarthy allowed Arca to start playing at left back, it proved a new lease of life for Arca, which the player was at pains to thank the manager for. “I’ll always be grateful to Mick McCarthy for the opportunity he gave me to prove myself in my proper position.
“I have been playing as a leftback since I was eight or nine, and while it wasn’t too different playing as a winger I think I have more space to use on the pitch from the back – I have the ball more and I can do more with it.
“I hope both the manager and the supporters think they are seeing me at my best. But, of course, I have no excuses now!”