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Manager Hunt: Roker Report writers make their picks - and there’s one outstanding candidate

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With Martin Bain and Ellis Short set to make another managerial appointment at some point in to coming days, it’s still very unclear as to who they’ll plump for. Here, a selection of the writers from RokerReport.com give their picks for who they’d choose to become the next Sunderland manager.

Walsall v Shrewsbury Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Gav picks... Paul Hurst

In a perfect world we’d be in a position where we were able to attract Sam Allardyce or Roy Keane back to the club, because it’s that type of character that we need in order to lift the place again and restore some credibility.

Really, it’s a big personality that is required if we are to end up anywhere but League One next season. These players quite clearly have it easy and someone that isn’t afraid to upset people and make tough decisions is what is needed.

If Neil Warnock and Mick McCarthy weren’t currently employed, I think that they’d do a decent job and bring characteristics to the table that are required in order to steady the ship at Sunderland. They mightn’t be glamorous managers and their football might not be pretty, but restoring some pride and work ethic to the club will be what prevents us from being relegated, and both men are capable of doing just that.

Cardiff City v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet Championship
Neil Warnock would be a sound appointment, but he’s currently employed & thriving at Cardiff
Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

The fact of the matter is, though, that axe-wielders like Keane and Allardyce simply wouldn’t accept the hand Ellis Short would be dealing them this time around, so we may have to set our sights slightly lower.

Paul Hurst - the Shrewsbury Town manager - is someone that intrigues me immensely and, having heard what fans of clubs he’s managed have to say about him, I think that he’d be a wise, if unspectacular appointment.

He’s a man on the up. He’s strict, expects nothing but the best from his players and has shown he’s capable of turning struggling sides into winners.

He’s adept at working on a small budget, he’s driven and doesn’t stand for ill-discipline.

My only issue with Hurst is his lack of experience at the top level but in all honesty that doesn’t overly concern me. We need someone that is prepared to come in here wide-eyed with their sleeves rolled up and, from what I can tell, Hurst appears to be that type of character.


Craig Davies picks... Paul Heckingbottom

I would like Paul Heckingbottom, Barnsley's current manager.

He has an excellent reputation for developing young players and players from the lower leagues.

Hecky's teams play a good brand of football and he can work magic on a budget that's less than ours. Former Sunderland and Barnsley ‘keeper David Preece, who knows him and worked with him, said we should break the bank to get him. I agree.


Tom Atkinson picks... Sam Allardyce

Call me a romantic, but there’s only one man I want - and that’s Sam Allardyce.

If I was Ellis Short I’d be on the phone offering Big Sam anything he wanted to get this club moving back in the right direction.

Big wage and a promotion bonus? You’ve got it mate. Solid transfer kitty? Here you go pal.

Sunderland v Chelsea - Premier League
There’s only one man for Tom, and that’s Sam Allardyce
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images

It would take a minor miracle to get him to come back, but it’s got to be worth a punt, surely? We need someone capable of bringing a real sense of discipline and fight into what looks like an incredibly frail squad - Allardyce is the only name I could vouch for with any degree of certainty.

If it’s not him, then it’s a total crapshoot as to who we’ll go for. They just need to bring professionalism, discipline and a touch of quality.

Someone get Big Sam a pint of wine, please! ASAP!


Walshie picks... ?!

Pardew, Venables, Hoddle, McCoist or the ghost of Bob Stokoe.

The funnier, the better because, honestly, who cares anymore?


Rory Fallow picks... Aitor Karanka

Pfft, I genuinely have no idea.

I can’t claim to know much about the Paul’s (Heckingbottom & Hurst). A young, up and coming, manager does sound appealing - and it was the kind of appointment I wanted in the summer - but now I wonder if we need someone a bit more hardened. The club is a mess and will such a green coach be able to turn us around mid-season?

The romantic in me wants to see a “knows the club” style appointment but appointing someone like Kevin Ball or Peter Reid would probably not be the wisest idea. That being said, having someone like that involved in some manner (perhaps even at boardroom level) could help claw back some club identity.

The realistic options are uninspiring, so much so that Aitor Karanka’s name being linked was almost exciting. I suppose he can organise a defence, at least.


Graham Macmillan-Mason picks... Kevin Ball

I think it’s quite obvious what the club needs. It has to be someone we can, as fans, rally behind. I think back to the days when Roy Keane came in, and we all seemed to pull together as one.

We need an appointment similar to that.

We need someone who can stick their chest out and say ‘this is Sunderland AFC’ and pull everyone together; someone who understands the fanbase.

Hull City v Sunderland - Premier League
Is it time that Bally was given a crack?
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

For me, Kevin Ball would be the first person I’d call.

He’s done his time in the youth development and brought through the likes of Jordan Henderson and Jordan Pickford. He hasn’t managed a senior side long-term, I know, but he has his coaching badges, knows the club and what makes it tick.

He’s a smarter fella than given credit for too, I think he knows his stuff tactically and deserves a shot at the big job.


James Henchard picks... Paul Hurst

I’m struggling to summon much in the way of enthusiasm for this one after the summer’s farce with first McInnes and then Grayson.

Without a drop of footballing nous within the Sunderland hierarchy and a chief executive operating as director of football with too much influence over the club functions he patently has no understanding of, the next man will remain on a hiding to nothing without the ‘fundamental change’ we were promised with Grayson’s sacking but which is unlikely to become reality.

Sunderland need someone who can bring change to the club as a whole - from academy, to scouting, to recruitment, to tactics and philosophy. Martin Bain can not be allowed to continue meddling in those areas.

I’d be happy with Hurst, heck I’d be happy with the Cowley brothers if it keeps the Chuckle Brothers - McCoist and Smith - away.


James Lowson picks... Paul Hurst

Paul Hurst - Sunderland have a great opportunity to do what they should have done in the Summer and hire a young up-coming coach to drag the club up into the 21st century.

My top picks for the job in the summer, Paul Heckingbottom and Lee Johnson, are unlikely to be enticed to give up secure Championship posts to come to Wearside.

Northampton Town v Shrewsbury Town - Sky Bet League One
Paul Hurst - a man on the up
Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

So the next best option has to be Hurst, a sensible, ambitious pragmatist that can change the identity of our squad and move us away from the miserable conservatism of Simon Grayson and David Moyes.

Give it to a young coach rather than pandering to nostalgia in sight of a quick fix, or hiring a mercenary journeyman like Paul Lambert or Nigel Pearson. Managers of their profile are unlikely to be as committed to re-structuring Sunderland knowing they'd be able to pick up work elsewhere, even if they fail at the Stadium of Light.


James Nickels picks... Paul Hurst

There are two stand out names just about every Sunderland fan would irrevocably back; Sam Allardyce and Roy Keane. However, hell would freeze over before either would work under Ellis Short again.

Aitor Karanka and Nigel Pearson piqued my early interest due to their impressive records at getting teams promoted out of this division and impressive ability to implement a watertight defence. However, both are somewhat unsettling and disruptive, and with a squad mired with questionable character and commitment, this would be very problematic.

I’d love for any one of Peter Reid, Kevin Ball, Stefan Schwarz or Kevin Phillips to come in and be successful, but the natural Sunderland-following pessimist in me knows it’d only turn to shite in the end. Thus I’d hold-off giving them the top job, and instead offer any of the above list the assistant's job.

Paul Hurst would be my pick. Although he’s somewhat unproven, it’d be nice to sign a rising star with momentum on his side selected, and not an ageing or controversial manager.

After talking with fans of his former clubs last week, I think that it is clear he is the right sort of character who would stamp his authority on our squad, has sufficient tactical nous and is experienced in galvanising downtrodden clubs.

He could just be the man to implement a long-term vision Ellis Short so evidently craves. Although he may struggle with the “big personalities” at the club who exert way too much control - in both the current playing staff and behind the scenes - if Hurst is installed alongside someone listed above who “knows the club” and simply “gets it”, this would ease his transition into such a big job immeasurably.