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Connections: Sunderland – David Moyes and a Manchester United loanee

Manchester United welcome a struggling Sunderland side to Old Trafford on Boxing Day hoping to continue their good run of form. The Reds face two home fixtures over the festive period following two away trips on the bounce, the 2-1 and 2-0 victories over Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion respectively. Sunderland – managed by former United boss David Moyes – visit the Theatre of Dreams on Monday before the Reds host Middlesbrough on New Years Eve.

Three league victories in a row has seen Mourinho’s men close the gap on the top four. After the 1-1 draw away at Everton at the beginning of the month, United were a whopping nine points off fourth place, now only four points separates them and Arsenal who occupy fourth.

Sunderland travel to United with three ex United players on their books, captain John O’Shea, Donald Love and Paddy McNair. They also have Adnan Januzaj on loan and are managed by former Reds boss David Moyes. Let’s take a look at a few things that connect the two clubs, starting with Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor at Old Trafford in 2013.

David Moyes

Following a successful spell with Everton, David Moyes was told he was to be the next Manchester United boss by the retiring Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013. It was always going to be hard to replace the legendary Scottish manager (Fergie, that is) but to say it didn’t work out for Moyes at Old Trafford would be a massive understatement. United had never finished outside the top three in the Premier League era under Ferguson but after languishing down in seventh with just four league games remaining, Moyes was relieved of his duties following just ten months in charge. An unsuccessful spell at Spanish side Real Sociedad followed before joining the Black Cats in July of this year.

Roy Keane

The no-nonsense midfielder joined the Reds in 1993 from Nottingham Forest for a British record at the time of £3.75 million. He captained the side from 1997 to 2005 and won everything domestically apart from the League Cup, including seven league titles and the Champions League in 1999. He spent twelve years at Old Trafford before his explosive exit in 2005 where he joined Scottish giants Celtic however Keane retired less than a year later. His first job in management came at the Stadium of Light where he took Sunderland from 23rd in the Championship to the Premier League in his first season in charge. He guided them to Premier League safety in the season that followed (2007/08) however parted ways with the club in December 2008. He is currently the assistant manager of the Irish national team.

Steve Bruce

The defender made the move to Old Trafford just weeks before his 27th birthday in 1987, joining from Norwich City for a reported fee of around £800,000, bargain! In 1989, Bruce formed a formidable partnership with new signing Gary Pallister at the heart of United’s defence. Their partnership was described as the best in the club’s history by Gary Neville, that’s some praise, that! The Englishman won everything domestically with the Reds including the European Cup Winners’ Cup and European Super Cup 1991. Incredibly, Bruce, as a central defender don’t forget, scored 113 goals throughout his career! Not bad for a centre back. After hanging up his boots in 1998, Bruce went straight into management with Sheffield United. He’s been in charge of numerous clubs over the years, including Wigan Athletic and Crystal Palace and took the Sunderland job in 2009. He guided the Black Cats to respectable 13th and 10th placed finishes in the Premier League but lost his job in November 2011 following a bad run of results. He is now in charge of Championship side Aston Villa.

Adnan Januzaj

While being on loan at the Stadium of Light, the young Belgian also rose to fame as an 18-year-old with a double at the same ground on his full league debut for the Reds back in 2013. He made 35 appearances in all competitions that year under the guidance of David Moyes, scoring 4 times. He failed to find the net in the season that followed and was subsequently sent on loan to German side Borussia Dortmund at the beginning of the 2015/16 campaign however was recalled in January 2016 after starting just 3 times. He reunited with former United boss Moyes at Sunderland earlier this year when he was sent out on loan by Jose Mourinho.

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