Two Choices: The Right Coach For The Players Or The Right Coach For The Club?
Since Ellis Short bought the club in 2009 we've hired and fired 3 managers in only 4 years . All with one thing in common, their teams stopped producing the goods. Just 13 Games after guiding Sunderland to their first top 10 finish since 2001, Steve Bruce was sacked as manager of Sunderland whilst hovering in 16th position. The team had stopped performing rather abruptly and a very small minority of Sunderland fans turned on Bruce and his childhood allegiance. A convenient front that still leaves the man feeling bitter today. The fact is is that this tiny minority only made themselves heard in and around the ground until the results had well and truly turned, before this, reservations about his allegiance could only be viewed or heard on message boards, in the pubs and at the workplace. Meanwhile the team we're well into the losing streak that saw Bruce's demise.
Fast forward and our hopes were revived, MoN had come in and saved us from relegation and flashed the cash to bring in local boy Adam Johnson and the hardworking and talented Steven Fletcher. Both for significant sum. MoN's tactics bored the life out us. His attempts to play a sharp, direct, counter attacking game came to nothing as he struggled to link defence with attack. Despite this frustration it's extremely relevant that at the start of January we had the 3rd best defensive record in the league and we were joint top regarding clean sheets. Just 3 months later he was sacked after losing the dressing room with the Black Cats looking like relegation fodder. The same set of defenders had stopped performing and combined with the lack of goals and the injury to top scorer Steven fletcher, we'd entered free fall.
Paolo Di Canio then entered the fold and it sparked an improvement within the squad. Magicly the defence rediscovered their organisation. Wins against the Nags and Everton combined with points against Stoke and Southampton, maintained our premiership status. Dignified defeats at the hands of Chelsea and Spurs left the 6-1 drubbing against Villa as the only dark spot as he swooped in and saved our backsides. No doubt PDC's extreme methods led to his demise as just 5 games into the new season he was removed from his post after failing to win a single game and the subsequent player revolt. The disturbing factor is the decision was the made off the back of player power rather then the board recognising the problem and taking action themselves.
Three different managers with different philosophies, all sacked with one common denominator. The Old Guard, The long serving players, the established premier league stars, who for three managers used their cliques to change the running of a professional football club when the problem laid well and truly with their own failings on the football pitch.
The Right Coach For The Players
No sooner had Paolo left the club the Players were calling for an English manager. John O'Shea has suddenly become club spokesmen seemingly, addressing the media as much as Paolo. Calling for players to raise their game (Not looking at your own performances eh John) and disturbingly, publicly referring to his stand-in Gaffer as 'Bally'. Bally incidentally, much the same as Ricky Sbragia, is publicly the players man for the Job. Just as Celustka, our best player so far this season and natural right back is is dropped without warrant for Craig Gardner, our Old Guard center midfielder. Even our resident neanderthal and the worst defender at the club, Carlos Cuellar, walks straight into the starting eleven.
Kevin Ball, for all we love him, has shown in two games exactly why the traditional manager the players want would be a very dangerous appointment. With it we'd get a happy set off players. Playing outdated football which they don't have to adapt to or improve themselves as players. A return to days off a plenty! With a freedom to drink and engage in mindless street crime, or being able to put themselves in a position where sexual assault allegations can be made and nerve to drink drive, would also very much appeal to the old guard in terms of lifestyle thrills while getting paid for just turning up.
Pulis himself left in his wake a booze culture in the ranks of Stoke City as his players challenged his authority and failed their fans on the pitch. McLeish himself has failed to gain the dressing room let alone lose his dressing room in his previous job.
Lets not forget how much an old school manager would conflict with the new system that's been put in place at no doubt great expense. The role demands a coach not a manager, It's understandable that a lot of fans are urging the board to completely dismiss the pleas from our players in attempt to create a happy dressing room atmosphere.
The Right Coach For The Club
You snooze you lose and to stand still is to step backwards, just two of the many apt sayings being bandied about when referencing the Premiership's constant evolution. So in a league that's constantly changing and becoming more and more technical by the season does it make any sense to go back to basics?
Surely what is needed is a progressive coach who can not only recognise a players level but can find a way to utilise it. To go on and evolve his style of play as he evolves his squad. To be able to install a level of discipline whilst maintaining an open door policy with which to understand his players needs and channel them needs into positive energy. To own the technical prowess to improve his players on the training pitch? You need to look no further than candidates like Gus Poyet, Rene Meulensteen or Gianfranco Zola to tick all those boxes.
Never has the term Premiership Experience been so irrelevant in hiring a head coach. Such is the constant progression of the premiership. As the british game waves goodbye to seeing the ball in the air and crunching tackles, it welcomes a continental mentality of ball control, slick passing and attractive attacking freedom. Something many unattractive clubs are striving for. Take Swansea City, a speck on footballing map pushing the ball around against top clubs like they're Barcelona. Or Southampton who look to attack with all the freedom and pleasure of an Arsenal side. Are either going to win the league anytime soon? Ofcourse not. Have they taken on a continental approach and are more than competing in the toughest league in the world while playing a very good brand of football, yes they are. Interesting that both clubs have been in the same league as us for a much shorter time.
In summary, the players are singing from a very different hymn sheet to that of the progression in the English game. They're so out of tune they've exposed themselves. With so many of these players on inflated wages and in their final years of contract you can see why an old school, back to basics set up would appeal to them. But for the good of the club and it's future their plea's should be dismissed and the best interests of the club maintained.