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OPINION: “Give Kevin Phillips the job!”

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Could giving Kevin Phillips the manager’s job at Sunderland be the progressive appointment required to rouse our club from its slumber?

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David Moyes’ compensation-free exit from Sunderland has given us a remarkable chance to rebuild and move away from the short-term culture that has killed this club.

With Moyes’ negative, out of date tactics gone and closed minded transfer policy kicked to the curb, Sunderland can now create something more progressive and sustainable.

A return to the cult of the manager, as opposed to head coach, brought us initial success under Sam Allardyce, but ultimately left us embarrassingly unprepared for his departure when the FA came calling.

The lack of a transfer strategy and playing style separate to Allardyce’s work left the club starting from scratch upon his exit. When Moyes arrived Sunderland needed greater depth everywhere alongside new players in key positions including replacing some of our best performers under ‘Big Sam’.

In hiring Moyes a notoriously indecisive recruiter, Ellis Short put the Scot in a position that exposed his weaknesses and left him starting on the back foot.

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A long-lost love and an unremarkable one-night stand.
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Now is the time for Short and Chief Executive, Martin Bain, to put faith in the other guys to improve our future. Simon Wilson was hired as a Chief Football Officer six months ago and was a long-term employee at Manchester City. Why not use his experience to forge a new on-field identity and template for future coaches to draw inspiration from and adapt? Let’s create continuity.

Rob Mackenzie has been hired specifically to help with identifying the right players to launch us back into the Premier League. Act now and trust the findings of a 31 year old who’s already worked with three big English football clubs in order to bring in the type of player need to reinvigorate our beleaguered club.

With the need to create a more balanced, sustainable culture and policy at Sunderland, it’s crucial the club appoint a manager who can work by committee.

Too often manager’s egos have been massaged in recent years, with the club sacrificing too much leverage and control to self-interested coaches. Gus Poyet was allowed to disrupt Lee Congerton’s transfer policy as the Uruguayan pushed through deals for limited players wasting crucial wages and a significant part of our budget which ultimately halted our ability to kick on after the ‘Great Escape’. Short also gave too much control to Martin O’Neill’s flawed, old-fashioned ideals and paid over the odds for British players with Premier League experience. Something that was never going to be sustainable on Wearside.

Another flaw many managers of the Short era have in common is a sense of disinterest and apathy when things go wrong. Whether it’s Moyes pointing to his high Premier League win total when deflecting blame for Sunderland’s miserable season, or Poyet allegedly courting the sack towards the end of his stay - managers seem to give up on this club instead of digging deeper in search of success.

Manchester United v Sunderland - Capital One Cup Semi-Final: Second Leg
Shudder.
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During Moyes’s tenure it felt like he believed he was doing us a favour. Ostensibly taking another managerial job out of routine rather than having a burning a desire to improve the club. I believe Sunderland must target a coach on the rise with a point to prove.

So who better than our 2000 Golden Shoe winner Kevin Phillips to restore pride to the club? Since retiring in 2014 the former England international has coached at Leicester City before becoming Derby County’s first team coach two years ago. Still working at Pride Park, now seems like an appropriate time for Phillips to chase his first top job in the game.

The 43 year old would bring an instant understanding of what it means to be successful at the Stadium of Light and an appreciation of how invested the city is in this often disappointing football team. He would come to the club with a point to prove and a desperation to succeed in a way Moyes simply didn’t.

If there were a plethora of experienced coaches on the up, in line to takeover suggesting Phillips would be ridiculous. But there isn’t.

Derek McInnes tops the list perhaps due to Bain’s background in the Scottish Premier League, and whilst the Aberdeen manager is only 45, the Scot has managed in British football for ten years. The caveat being his one spell in English football was a forgettable stint at Bristol City. Judging the merits of success in Scottish football is also tough, given the dearth of competition and quality in the league in comparison to the English Premier League.

Other names come with similar red flags, be it the negative Aitor Karanka or the combustible Nigel Pearson. Karanka would feel too similar to Moyes, given that Middlesbrough scored even less than our bottom dwellers this season. Pearson was reluctant to evolve and embrace new ideas at Leicester City. He also attacked journalists and threatened fans in a bizarre up and down final season with the Foxes.

Other names in the mix seem too ridiculous to even bother properly assessing, Dwight Yorke at 20-1 with William Hill, anyone?

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The ultimate left-field appointment.
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So given the lack of alternatives. Given the special connection he enjoys with the fans. Given the opportunity to create a new, more modern Sunderland football club. Why not give Phillips the opportunity to try and bring pride back to the Stadium of Light?

The club has become stale and rotten based on a short-termism born from the owner’s obsession with avoiding relegation. The rotten core has become poisonous, infecting everyone from playing staff to technical directors. Players have stopped caring about the club they represent while managers have been more concerned with protecting their own reputations.

Hiring someone who cares and would be highly invested in wanting the club to perform to its full potential would be a well needed step in the right direction.

Please Ellis Short modernise the club and make Kevin Phillips the figurehead of change.