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He's here: Tactics & Style - what will Sunderland get in Coleman? Wales writer gives the lowdown

Chris Coleman has been confirmed as Sunderland boss. But just what can we expect from the new man? We spoke to Welshman and avid-Wales fan Ben Dudley to find out more.

Wales v Belgium - Quarter Final: UEFA Euro 2016 Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

So, Chris Coleman is Sunderland’s new boss.

In a statement today on SAFC.com, it was announced:

Sunderland AFC are delighted to announce Chris Coleman as the club’s new manager.

The Welshman has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal at the Stadium of Light and arrives on the back of six memorable years as Wales boss, during which time he managed his country into the top ten of FIFA’s world rankings and an incredible run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016.

The 47-year-old was highly sought-after but chose Sunderland as the fifth club of his managerial career, following spells with Fulham, Real Sociedad, Coventry City and AEL.

Coleman took his first training session this morning and will be in charge for the Black Cats’ midweek Sky Bet Championship clash with Aston Villa.

Speaking to safc.com, chief executive Martin Bain welcomed Coleman to Wearside.

“The football club has conducted a thorough process over the last three weeks to identify the best manager for the job, before and after which Chris was the clear first choice.

“We are delighted that he and Kit Symons, his assistant manager, have joined us, and are now focused on working together to get the football club moving in the right direction.”

And after being named as the club's new manager, Coleman spoke of his delight.

“It’s an honour to be appointed the manager of Sunderland AFC and I’m over the moon that the club believes I am the right man.

“The club worked incredibly hard to make sure we were a good fit and to show me the potential that can be achieved here."

He added: “I believe that every person at this football club, every player and every supporter has a part to play in getting us back to where we belong.”

So, what can we expect from Coleman?

Here’s the view of Ben Dudley, Wales fan and the man behind the excellent Supporters not Customers website.

On the “greatest ever” Wales manager...

I'm gutted for Wales, he's our greatest ever manager and I feel like he had one more campaign in him, didn't really expect him to go to be honest. But he will leave with the best wishes of everyone and you'll probably gain quite a lot of Welsh fans!

For Sunderland, it could be a good fit also. We were in an absolute mess after Speedo died, the lowest moment of our history. He took a shattered squad with no motivation or morale and lead us to the best thing we've ever done or ever will do. So as long as the board is willing to give him time I think he'll be a success. Will he turn it round in ten games? I don't think so. In a year, definitely.

On character and managerial style...

I think he'll be quite cautious to start with . Certainly not Tony Pulis style, but until he figures out his best team and brings in a few of his own players, I wouldn't be too surprised to see 5-4-1. The best news for Sunderland is he's very motivational, his players would run through walls through him, and he connects well with the fans. You won't see him slink off without clapping the away end, for example. Once he gets to know the squad better, he'll go a bit more attacking. Wales only lost two qualifiers in the last two campaigns, so hopefully you'll finally be hard to beat!

On his impact on Welsh football...

His impact on the setup has been huge, we used to be quite amateurish in terms of preparation, and apart from forgetting his passport once he's been great in that sense! I think he'll bring in Kit Symons, who he has a good bond with and has also really improved us in terms of professionalism and preparation. We've gone from being Gareth Bale FC to a proper team, and I think he has to take almost all the credit. I think he will be very hands on. You can tell he's been missing the daily aspect of managing as we only have 8-9 games a year, so he'll be very keen to dive back in.

Wales Training Session
Coleman with his assistants at Wales, Kit Symons and Osian Roberts
Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

On style of football, training, coaching and tactics...

Expect much more of a passing game, we never really played long ball, unless we were trying to see out a game and whacking it up to Vokes. I'd encourage people to watch the highlights of our Euro's game with Russia to see just how sexy his football can be at times.

On the Welsh players in the Sunderland ranks...

Jonny Williams will probably become a key figure, he definitely rates him highly, and Coleman got him playing superbly just before, and during, the Euro's. I personally think 'Joniesta' is a top player, who only dropped to the Championship due to being injury prone. Adam Matthews hasn't really been near the squad, so it's hard to tell what he thinks of him really. I think there's a good chance Coleman will go for Joe Ledley (on a short term deal at Derby) or Chris Gunter in January, especially if results haven't improved by then. Those are probably the most realistic targets, even if Bale is a bit out of favour...

On things which may frustrate...

Coleman made our dreams come true, including many we never knew we had, so I struggle to criticise him for anything. If I had too, it would be that we struggle to break down teams like Moldova and Georgia who only come to defend deep. The same was true with Ireland, they packed the defence and we didn't have an answer for it. So, eventually, you could be in for some frustrating games when weaker sides come to town.

Wales v Austria - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier
Chris Coleman
Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

On Coleman adapting to club football...

He's been a club manager before, but obviously not for quite a long time. I guess transfers will be the most interesting thing to watch, god knows you need them! The money in the game has changed hugely since his last job, so I do wonder how he'll adapt to that. Everything else, I don't see any issue. Many of our players have said that the squad is so close it feels a lot like a club team environment anyway.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Give him time. Many Wales fans, including myself, wanted him to go after a poor start, including an awful 6-1 loss to Serbia. He stayed, and you could say it went pretty well! The club needs stability, and he's not a manager like Big Sam who will come in with a short term fix in a few weeks. But if you let him do his thing, you'll be beating Newcastle 0-3 again before you know it...

I'll be following Sunderland closely while he's the manager, and I genuinely hope he can turn things around. I'm gonna go ahead and make a terrible prediction you can abuse me for in six months time, 12th this season, playoffs next year.


I’d like to thank Ben for his time, and be sure to check out his excellent Supporters Not Customers blog. If you haven’t already, the post about the 2-1 derby victory back in 2013 (that Borini one), you should give it a read here. It’s fantastic stuff.