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Sunderland’s new owners MUST appoint a Roy Keane-esque figure as manager - is Mick Mac that man?

Sunderland need a manager who can galvanise the squad and rule with an iron fist. Is Mick McCarthy the man to do just that?

Ipswich Town v Norwich City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images

It has been a roller-coaster of a weekend for Sunderland AFC and its fans - and with new ownership very much in the offing, the mental nature of what has transpired will only continue to come at us in droves.

As a result of the takeover, however, Chris Coleman and his assistant Kit Symons have been released by the club. It is thought that the new owners wanted their own manager in charge, and the former Wales gaffer did not fit the bill.

I am one of many Sunderland fans who was warmed by Coleman’s honesty and directness. He was not afraid to speak the truth and this stood him in stark contrast to Martin Bain and Ellis Short. Coleman worked in pragmatism - not platitudes - and it appealed to many Sunderland supporters. But having said that, the results under his tenure were not great and setting our own emotion aside, it’s easy to see why the new owners might have wanted to appoint their own person in order to give the most important areas of the football club some clear and new direction.

Fulham v Crystal Palace
Coleman’s interwoven honesty and charisma was admired by many a Sunderland fan.
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

And whilst the removal of Coleman has been labelled as rushed and premature by some, it does mean that we have time to appoint a new manager and let them assemble a squad ready for pre-season and League One.

For a club that has been so hamstrung by its debt crisis for almost a decade, it is quite refreshing to think that time is now the most precious commodity on Wearside.

For the next week or so there will naturally be comparisons to the last takeover - led by the Drumaville consortium and Niall Quinn in 2006. One of the most important factors of that summer was the delayed appointment of a new manager. Quinn himself tried his hand at management for the first few weeks of the season… to disastrous effect.

Roy Keane was appointed on 28 August 2006, weeks after the season had begun and a day after our first win of the 06/07 season - and it was all uphill from there.

In a period of constant change, Keane steadied the ship and chartered a course for the Premier League in the most exciting way possible. In short, Keane was exactly the manager we needed at the time.

Reading v Sunderland
Could it be the return of Big Mick?
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

He ruled with an iron-fist and his players knew they either followed his rule or didn’t play for the club again. We would not have dominated the league that year if we had not had such a formidable character in the managerial hot-seat.

If we are to have a similar season to 06/07 next year, we need another manager strong enough to guide the club through a period of change - someone who takes no prisoners and who will help us throw our weight around in a division we should not be in.

It has been twelve years since we last did that. Ultimately, we need a Roy Keane-esque figure at the helm if we are to rise from the ashes once again.

The front-runner for the job is Mick McCarthy who, like Roy Keane, is another former Sunderland manager who is not afraid to speak his mind and who still has plenty of admirers on Wearside.

McCarthy and Keane famously went toe-to-toe at the 2002 World Cup with neither backing down. It takes a strong man to stand up to Keane but that’s exactly what McCarthy did as Keane ended up leaving the Irish squad before a ball had eve been kicked.

McCarthy resigned as Ipswich manager last month and his appointment would make sense financially as well as in terms of pedigree. Signing a free-agent manager would allow the new owners to create a settled environment before pre-season even begins. It would mean plans for next season can start even before this current, nightmare season ends.

Whatever happens, this is now a period of optimism for Sunderland fans and it has been a long time since we’ve had that. If the new owners make sure they bring in the right type of manager then there is no reason why this feeling of euphoria shouldn’t last the whole of next season too. And no reason why we shouldn’t all feel hopeful about our club again.

Ha’way the Lads. The good times are coming back.

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