Nick Holden: Top 3 Picks For Next Sunderland Manager

Alex Livesey

Along with the rest of the team, I've come up with my favoured suggestions for the next man to get comfortable (but doubtless not too comfortable) in the Sunderland hotseat...

1. Rene Meulensteen

I can't honestly say I know a whole lot about the former Manchester United assistant. That being said, he is a very highly rated coach who was valued and respected by the whole United squad and by Sir Alex Ferguson. Praised as recently as April as "truly one of the best [coaches] in the world" by Robin Van Persie he certainly comes with great pedigree as a coach. Despite David Moyes' desire to bring his own backroom staff to United this summer, many were surprised when he chose to dispense with Meulensteen along with the rest of Ferguson's back-room staff.

That he was highly rated in the wider footballing world was shown by his appointment soon after he left United as manager of megabucks Anzhi Makhachkala. That this appointment failed to work out wasn't Meulensteen's fault, as Anzhi's owner had decided to massively slash his wage bill and so had to part with his coach as well as well-paid stars such as Willian and Samuel Eto'o.

Meulensteen's past as a coach, rather than a manager, could pay dividends in Sunderland's new structure. With Director of Football Roberto Di Fanti still firmly installed, whoever the new man is will have to be accepting of his role being reduced to primarily just first team responsibilities, rather than wide-ranging control of transfers as well.

Though he'd still be a relative gamble due to his inexperience of managing, he is a highly rated coach and doesn't come with the baggage that is increasingly making Di Canio look like an extremely poor appointment. As we saw with the, at least initial, success that Steve Clarke brought to West Brom a highly rated coach can make the step up to Head Coach, especially when operating in conjunction with a Director of Football.

Meulensteen would feel like a progressive and positive appointment from Sunderland, rather than fishing from the same tired pool of jaded Premier League old trouts.

2. Marcelo Biesla

Biesla is one of the great tactical students of the game still operating in management. As Sunderland fan and floating-brain-in-a-jar Jonathon Wilson likes to mention, Biesla is a key inspiration for many of Europe's top managers at the moment, including current Barcelona coach Gerardo 'Tata' Martino. His high-energy, high-pressing game would be great to watch if he could get the Sunderland squad to properly implement it, and his inside-out knowledge of tactics would be extremely refreshing following the innate conservatism of many of Sunderland's recent managers.

Many will remember the red and white pressing machine that was his Athletic Bilbao side of a few seasons ago. A side that notably took Manchester United to pieces in the Europa League when a much scarier Glaswegian was in charge. It would be hard not to be swayed by the thought of Sunderland becoming that red and white machine.

However, there are some caveats. Whilst he is currently out of work, his status in the game would probably ensure that he would be an extremely expensive acquisition which may be a negative factor for the board. Plus there's the fact that, rather awkwardly, the Argentine could be said to be somewhat similar to not-so-dearly departed Head Coach Di Canio. Like the combustible Italian he demands intensity and incredible amounts of commitment from his squads. As seen by the severe drop off in performances by Bilbao in Biesla's final season in charge, this can get too much for many players.

It's not just his training regime that can be intense, Biesla also has several notable bust-ups to his name. Including falling out with Fernando Llorente in his final season at the Basque club, and attempting to tender his resignation after getting into a fight with a builder at Bilbao's training camp. Considering the recent revelations about just how disastrous Di Canio's confrontational approach was at Sunderland, perhaps Ellis Short will deem appointing a man nicknamed 'El Loco' an unwise move...

3. Sven Goran Eriksson/Gary Neville/Kevin Ball/Mark Halsey/Steve McClaren

All of the above could bring something different to the role. Sven, his renowed skill with the ladies. Gary Neville, a giant iPad. Kevin Ball, his love of Sunderland and huge enthusiasm for the role. Mark Halsey, his apparently endless number of managerial contacts. And, last and, to be honest, least, Steve McClaren comes equipped with his very own brolly.

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