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OPINION: Sunderland Must Find A Better Use For Kevin Ball

In an era in which the disconnection between club and supporters is at its widest, can Sunderland really afford to waste Kevin Ball?

Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

With Sunderland's now annual changing of the managerial make-up of the club at hand, there is one name amid it all that has been quite sadly, as far as I'm concerned anyway, absent - Kevin Ball.

To be clear from the outset, this isn't a blog about Kevin Ball the manager, although I have gone on record before to say that I'd have no real issues with that anyway. Sam Allardyce is the right man.

However, on Thursday night, Ball was talking at a Sunderland Echo awards ceremony. The previous Thursday he was at the Stadium of Light giving a talk-in with Alex Rae. It's his ambassadorial role and he represents the club in an absolutely exemplary manner.

Surely, though, there is a better role for Bally at Sunderland than this?

Granted, the ship has probably sailed on his chances of managing Sunderland, despite the fact he'd love the job. We are very much in 'safe pair of hands' territory for the foreseeable future and that demands a track record.

I have seen his name mentioned by a few in relation to the vacant assistant manager role too but I suspect Allardyce will be looking for someone with whom he has an existing rapport.

But this is Kevin Ball. There has to be a role somewhere on the coaching staff for him?

For years we have complained, fairly, about how the club we love seems to have jettisoned the ideals with which we all relate. We can discuss tactics and systems and the youth policies and all that other stuff as much as we want, but I'm talking about the core virtues of Sunderland AFC.

The passion, the courage to commit, the honesty to graft and battle and scrap and take genuine pride in the shirt and the people it represents.

In other words, all the things that Kevin Ball delivered without fail in almost ten years as a Sunderland player.

He may not be the greatest coach in the world. I know he's a highly qualified coach, but the rest I am not in a position to judge. He may not be the greatest tactician or football technician the game has ever seen. Again, I wouldn't know either way.

However, what I do know is that he knows what Sunderland is and he has genuine pride and passion for it. How could putting him in a position to communicate that to the players on a daily basis possibly be a bad thing?

Even if that was all he ever did other than putting out cones, how could it hurt? We moan and we moan and we moan about a disconnect between club and supporters whilst wasting a figure that bridges the two.

Don't ask me to judge the coach because I can't, and neither, by the way, can the people who completely write him off, but if you ever give me a choice between having Kevin Ball, the man, on my side and not having Kevin Ball on my side, there is no way I'm not picking the former.

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