I will caveat this by stating the obvious - I hope to be proved 100% wrong here. If this comes back to bite me on the arse then I’ll be happier than anyone.
I thought I would be bursting with excitement when Sunderland got new owners, however the unwarranted dismissal of Chris Coleman is curbing my enthusiasm.
There’s always going to be element of uncertainty when new owners arrive - the beginning of a new era is obviously going to be somewhat turbulent especially at a club like Sunderland.
I can even understand the desire of the new board to totally refresh us, but the manager was the only part of Sunderland that didn’t feel stale. For any perceived short comings, Coleman had a huge desire to succeed on Wearside and had the personality to make you believe that he could do it.
That personality, the gravitas that Coleman brought, is hugely important to Sunderland right now. A lot of names being linked with the vacancy are those of seasoned lower league managers, the type of blokes who have done respectable jobs at League One clubs.
You could call them “tried and tested” and compliment them with “knowing the league”, a bit like Simon Grayson was supposed to be when we poached him from Preston. The issue with managers of this ilk is that, for all they are well intentioned, they don’t have the charisma to lift a fan base that’s on its knees.
I don’t want to eulogise Coleman too much - he was still the manager of the worst side in our history - but he never really got a good chance to change our course.
Just a few days ago, he was talking about taking a pay cut to remain in charge of the football club. Furthermore, he uprooted his family to the North East as soon as he got the job. It was clear that he saw Sunderland as a long term project and didn’t just come here for an easy payday and a seat on the managerial merry-go-round. Why else would you be “devastated” to be leaving a club who will finish bottom of the Championship?
Not long ago, Coleman was nominated for FIFA manager of the year - it goes without saying that he could have comfortably waited for a much easier gig to come around.
Chris Coleman didn’t want a cushy job though, he wanted to turn a big club around and he wanted to become an icon at a great club. Call it ego if you like but we need a manager with that kind of swagger, so I don’t know why we have let one slip through our fingers.
Coleman deserved to at least work with a decent transfer budget and try and earn his place in Sunderland folklore.
It isn’t going to be him though, it’s going to be someone else - someone else who will have to make an assessment of the squad. Someone else who will have to figure it out as they go along and won’t be able to form a true opinion on the players until pre-season training begins.
I don’t doubt that the new owners will have their own man in mind but even if they’ve been keeping an eye on Sunderland’s season, they won’t have the knowledge of the squad that Coleman had and won’t have as clear an idea of what is needed to strengthen it.
I’m sure that more details will come out over the next couple of weeks and Stewart Donald’s vision for the club will be revealed. They need to make sure they get their manager in place quickly though and he needs to have the personality to reignite the club, as well as the nous to navigate through the third tier.
Maybe Donald and his cohorts will be the club’s saviours - and I hope to god that they are - but their first act has made me sceptical, and I won’t be getting carried away just yet.