When the initial rumblings rippled through social media that Chris Coleman looked set to become Sunderland’s new manager I was initially cautious with my reaction. Was Ellis Short throwing money at yet another quick fix in appointing an international manager - one capable of producing good results in a high pressure situations?
I cast my mind back to the appointment of Dick Advocaat and the tournament-like approach he adopted in order to secure our survival. Would Chris Coleman be another flash in the pan? Would he be capable of short-term success, only to fall short in the long-term? Was this another blinkered appointment?
Then, shortly after the appointment, Roker Report published an article about Coleman in which a Welsh football writer gave his honest opinion about the former Wales boss and what exactly he’ll bring to our club - a great read if you haven’t already had the chance to digest it for yourself, by the way.
After reading the Q&A I let out a little grin of optimism and my guts flipped with this strange feeling apparently labelled optimism. Coleman sounds like just the man we need.
In the aforementioned Q&A I couldn’t help but notice a theme developing the more I read on. Ben argued that:
For Sunderland, it could be a good fit also. We [Wales] 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.
He also went on to say:
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.
And as I read the article, I found myself beginning to comprehend the fact that a key component of the puzzle has been missing for some time. This might sound like a rather bizarre question, but when was the last time Sunderland actively sought out a proactive appointment made in order to create a lasting impact? Grayson and Moyes certainly weren’t and neither were Dick or Big Sam - all those managers were hired in order to halt the advancing rot that was slowly killing our club. Only one of them really made a positive impact on the club, and none of them were hired in order to forge a lasting legacy.
Coleman’s appointment, however, doesn’t feel like those that came before him; it feels exciting and unique - we’ve found someone at the top of their game, a man capable of regenerating and cultivating a side that had fallen by the wayside, so to speak. This appointment feels meaningful and bold, and we have every right to feel excited about it. Chris Coleman as Sunderland manager marks a serious change in club strategy.
Coleman is here to redevelop a side that is floundering, he’s not here with the sole remit of preventing relegation. Of course, it would be naive to suggest relegation isn’t on his mind; however, Coleman is not some stop gap measure like Simon Grayson - in fact he’s completely the opposite. He’s a man out to build something lasting.
We’ve endured some true dross over the last few years, which was compounded by the fact we failed to win for the twentieth time at home last weekend - almost an entire year without one. It’s no wonder fans are upset, sometimes uninterested and often angry. Can you blame the heckling and lack of numbers when offered up such a poor show of determination and fight?
It’s already been mentioned, but it needs to be said again: this really won’t be an overnight transformation. It will be long, protracted and difficult - though it will be for the best going forward. We as fans need to get behind Chris and give him our full backing; he’s already said the right things in front of the camera, but now we need to let him develop a side capable of making us proud once more.
Finally we’ve appointed someone with charisma, determination and an immediate history of redeveloping a side into genuine contenders. It’s not an appointment based on ancient merit, desperation, or making do and mending; it’s an appointment made with vision and tact. Chris Coleman is capable of rejuvenating this club and turning us into winners once more, he now deserves our patience and support because this is about more than avoiding the drop once more - this is about building for the future.
Coleman needs our backing, and Ellis Short’s, too. If this really is the kind of appointment I have just described, then Short and Bain need to support our new gaffer in every which way possible - including financially. Chris Coleman needs to be given anything and everything required in order to re-shape this current mess into something resembling a successful football club. Things need to change.
Although this feels like the first few steps of the journey, it really does feel good to feel optimistic again, right?