Managers. Takeovers. ‘The betting.’ Derek McInnes. David Moyes. Martin Bain. Ellis Short. So far this summer, these are names and terms my brain has become somewhat overloaded with; as has all things connected with our football club.
There’s nothing going on - nothing productive it would seem anyway - but at the same time it still feels like absolutely everything is going on. I think it’s the uncertainty and the not knowing that rankles with our supporters, me included. Honestly, it drives me mad. A couple of ‘nothing of note’ statements from the club aside, we don’t have any real idea of the path ahead and where exactly it will lead us.
We all know that the cold hard facts make for dire reading. As I write, a consortium that includes Tony Adams of all people is in the pipeline, with some newspapers suggesting that the group would consider appointing Adams as the next Sunderland manager if their own takeover bid is successful. What a bizarre (and inevitably eventful) route to take that would be. Almost hidden in amongst all of this erratic uncertainty is a man whose current role has largely been overlooked, forgotten almost - Robbie Stockdale.
Rather than dwelling on what we don’t know, for a moment at least, let’s look at something that we are certain about - and that’s Stockdale’s situation at the club.
In light of Derek McInnes turning down the job at the Stadium of Light, Martin Bain has abandoned his manager search until takeover talks have reached a conclusive stage.
There must be a resolution ahead surely?
While it remains patently obvious to us all that there is little in the way of funds to strengthen the squad currently, naturally any incoming boss will be seeking assurances about his role should a takeover materialise. In layman’s terms, nobody is jumping at the possibility of bossing Sunderland.
In recent weeks, whatever road the club took, the managerial hunt always seemed to be heading to a fruitless conclusion. There never seemed to be any substance to any of the speculation, which is why I think handing over responsibility - albeit temporarily - to a figure already at the club may have been a much smarter move than first thought.
It’s gone almost under that radar. Robbie Stockdale has been given the task of overseeing the football side of the club whilst the takeover talks are ongoing - just exactly for how long that will be remains to be seen.
What we do know is that the club have privately set their own deadlines. What they are exactly remains a mystery. Let’s face it; the club are hardly experts when it comes to sharing information with its supporters.
With pre-season training due to start on June 29th and the first friendly against Bury on July 7th, having Stockdale, Adrian Tucker, Elliott Dickman and perhaps even Kevin Ball to oversee the first team makes absolute sense to me. Stellar names they aren’t - and I’m not for one minute suggesting that this is the route that SAFC should look to take long term - but for now these guys will be ‘minding the shop’ so to speak, and it’s something that I find reassuring.
The more I think about it, the more sense it makes. In fact with everything that’s going on I think that it’s the only reassuring element to the uncertainty surrounding our early path into the 2017/18 Championship season. People like Bally have been in this ‘fire-fighter’ role before at Sunderland, and I think we should be looking to utilise those skills and experiences to steady our ship in these coming few weeks. Having figures who know the club can only be a good thing.
Robbie Stockdale is well thought of at Sunderland, that much we do know. I recall that Big Sam gave him a glowing public reference shortly after he took over the Sunderland job, which is good enough for me. Couple that with the fact that Paul Bracewell has been let go and Stockdale’s services have been retained - his own position at the club has been reinforced significantly.
That has culminated in Martin Bain effectively putting him in charge. I think whoever comes in as manager, whether a takeover is completed or not, would do well to retain the services of someone who has worked his way through the setup here.
Like I say, I realize that he is not a big name, not as popular figure with some supporters as he is with others, but he’s all we have, and I think we are fortunate to have him and other members of the coaching staff to fall back on.
He’s familiar with the setup here, knows the club and the people that run it. I don’t think this should be overlooked. One other important factor to think about is the players. He’s a familiar face to them, and he’ll be a reassuring presence on the training ground when everyone is back (whether they want to be or not) on June 29th.
Stockdale brought through a lot of the younger players currently in and around the first team. The likes of Honeyman, Asoro and Gooch, who are embarking on their first real campaigns as professional players, will greatly benefit from Sunderland keeping Stockdale at the club.
In the brief time he is the boss, he may even lay down the foundations that enable Sunderland to blossom a little later on in the season, should the owner and the board finally get things right off the pitch. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and we’d do well to remember that. We should prepare ourselves and realize that it may indeed require plenty of time to pick through the rubble and mess that David Moyes created last season. He bleated on and on about building and rebuilding. Building what exactly? Well David, largely thanks to you, the real work starts here.
As much as we’d hate to, we have to trust the powers that be to get it right. Of course, trusting Ellis Short is a phenomenally difficult thing to do. Achieving a state of nirvana seems more plausible for some folk. I’d like to think that in the not too distant future that a takeover will indeed have been successful, a manager with all the credentials we need to heave this club from off its knees has been installed in the hot seat, and that there is a decent amount of cash to spend to inject some real quality into this team.
A repeat scenario of 06/07 would be fantastic, wouldn't it? However unlikely that sounds for our club is open to debate. I’ll admit, I’m usually a glass half empty man, but I’m quietly confident of a positive outcome for us this summer. We are lagging a little behind in preparation, certainly in terms of potential signings anyway, and we will all be watching with great interest.
The work that gets done now on and off the pitch will inevitably determine how this season will go. I suppose the summer months just wouldn’t be the same without all the drama and intrigue, would they?