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Top Ten: Worst Sunderland AFC Managers

Well, another weekend and another showcase of bizarre decisions from our man Bruce. Of course Steve cannot be held accountable for yet another slow start as his defence parted like the old Red Sea but his substitutions, yet again, had many a fan scratching their head in bewilderment. How did Elmohamady escape being subbed? What does Connor Wickham have to do to impress? Why not give McLean a run out? Of course this is all subject to debate but what isn’t is his apparent distain for the Sunderland faithful and blaming everyone but himself for his failure to pick a cohesive and winning eleven from his undoubtedly talented side.

I’m not suggesting Bruce is a bad manager, or maybe I am, hell I don’t know what to think anymore. Progress has been made since his arrival but we have been far from convincing this term. Even Steve must wake up and smell the coffee sooner or later and acknowledge what everyone else can see – a side sat in the relegation zone.

So, to look on the bright side here are ten managers that were worse than Steve… arguably…

10. Niall Quinn

Sorry Niall. You have been a superb servant to the club both during your playing days and, until recently, your tenure as chairman. However your time spent as manager was all together forgetful. Maybe I’m being harsh, call it a hangover from the weekend but Quinn is far too much of a nice guy to make it as a manager. He didn’t want the job, it was a temporary quick fix and we can all forgive him but I’m sure the big fella would be the first to admit his brief managerial career is better off brushed under the carpet and forgotten about by all concerned.

9. Ricky Sbragia

In much the same vein as Niall, Ricky was quite simply too much of a nice guy to cut it as a manager. Having taken over as caretaker manager following Roy Keane’s departure in December of 2008, Sbragia was rewarded with an 18 month contract. Under his guidance Sunderland survived relegation on the final day of the season, with NUFC taking the bullet and Ricky promptly resigned. Despite coming across as a decent chap Ricky was never the most positive of blokes and much like Steve at the moment seemed to do his best to talk himself out of a job with his dour and negative comments to the press. Also the fact that Quinn had reportedly received "dozens" of applications for "world renowned manager" in the wake of Keane’s departure, giving SAFC fans a tantalising dream of what was to be, only for Ricky to find himself in the job. He was probably as surprised as we were.

8. Alan Brown

Brown managed SAFC on two separate occasions, first from 1957-64 before his second ill-fated spell in 1968. Alan was able to keep Sunderland away from relegation in his first season, but was unable to face his second relegation whilst with the club the following year as the side dropped into the second division.

7. Ian McColl

McColl became the SAFC boss having had a successful spell as the Scotland manager, managing to guide the Jocks to 16 victories during his 27 game tenure. Great things were expected of McColl especially when he managed to bring Slim Jim Baxter to Roker Park in 1965. However, much like Baxter’s Sunderland career, McColl’s was disappointing to say the least. Unable to forge a successful side McColl was sacked in 1968 having managed just 39 wins in 124 games.

6. Alan Durban

Durban was at the helm for three years, 1981-84 and was expected to achieve much, much more than the results he managed mainly because of the footballers he had at his disposal, Nick Pickering, Gary Rowell, Shaun Elliott and a raw Ally McCoist. The Scot managed 39 wins from the 124 games he took charge of. While no-one could argue with Durban’s ability to spot a player and develop young talent his philosophy when it came to on the pitch matters left a lot to be desired. "Anyone seeking entertainment should go to the circus" he once said and the fans did, or at least they found something else to do with their Saturday afternoon’s in the early 80’s as attendances at Roker plummeted.

5. Len Ashurst

I’m definitely in a bad mood today… Ashurst made a name for himself with Sunderland as a player and in the late sixties was part of one of the most notable and settled defensive lines in the club’s history. However, once the boots had been hung up, things were not so good. Despite taking the club to our first League Cup final, a highlight, Len also managed to guide the side to relegation in 1985, lowlight. Ashurst then went on to manage such footballing super powers as Kuwait and Qatar.

4. Mick Buxton

Buxton was a funny fella. Not "ha ha" funny because he was possibly the most dour and miserable man to take on the job and constantly gave the impression that he didn’t want to be there. Buxton’s time with Sunderland was one of the darkest era’s for many a year. Roker Park had fallen into a dilapidated state, the eleven players mirrored the condition of their surroundings and attendances were worryingly low. It was a depressing time for all involved and Buxton’s fate wasn’t helped by a certain Kevin Keegan that was providing such entertainment for our Northern brothers. Sunderland’s slide to relegation looked guaranteed before Mick was finally given the push and Peter Reid was allowed to breathe much needed life into a club that was on its knees.

3. Howard Wilkinson

Oh Howard. I can remember bunking off from a Sociology lesson as an excited Sixth Former, sorry Mrs Scott if you’re reading for some reason, as Sunderland were preparing to unveil their new manager. All hope was quickly dashed however as Bob presented the dynamic duo of Howard Wilkinson and his assistant Steve Cotterill to the gathered press and fans. I don’t think there has ever been an appointment that was so doomed for failure from the outset. The blundering Wilko certainly had credentials but his CV was so dated you presume Murray had to dust it down. 27 games, 4 wins and numerous training sessions that involved watching birds flying in formation later and the Sergeant was on his way.

2. Terry Butcher

Much like Ashurst before him, Butcher will probably wish he was remembered on Wearside for his playing days with the club rather than his disastrous managerial spell. Butcher was unable to make any impact on the side following his appointment in 1993 and the side spiralled into a seemingly inescapable slide towards the drop. SAFC might have narrowly avoided the drop at the end of the 1992/93 season but Terry could not escape the chop early the following term. Terry also developed a rather bizarre habit of frantically waving to the perplexed Sunderland fans following each game come win, lose or draw for anything up to five minutes or more. The writing should have been on the wall then, the bloke was clearly mental.

1. Lawrie McMenemy

The majority of weeks I have my selection for this piece questioned, quite rightly often I would agree, however I’m sure very few Sunderland fans that endured his tenure at Roker would argue with me here. McMenemy was appointed in June of 1985 just days after leaving his former long term employers Southampton. Sunderland fans were initially welcoming of their new man who at the time was the highest paid manager in English football and was expected to be our very own Kevin Keegan, charismatic, successful etc. Let that fact settle for a moment. Lawrie would go on to achieve greatness with Sunderland, leading the club to European glory… who am I kidding, the bloke got the side relegated to the Third Division for the first and only time and found himself christened "Mackem-Enemy" by the fans.

"Lawrie McMenemy and the Titanic have one thing in common – neither should have left Southampton"

Was the quip from comic Jimmy Tarbuck and I’m sure no-one from these parts will argue.

So there you go, ten managers that were absolutely pants. There have been plenty to choose from so be sure to leave your personal "favourite" in the comments and have a vote in the poll. Peace out.

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