Former Oxford United duo favourites for Sunderland job
Shortly after it was announced that Stewart Donald and his international consortium were taking over from Ellis Short, pending EFL approval, Mick McCarthy was quickly made favourite to succeed Chris Coleman as Sunderland manager.
McCarthy was then backed into odds-on after he was spotted in the North East but since that quick flurry, McCarthy’s odds have drifted and Michael Appleton and Chris Wilder - both former Oxford United managers - have taken over as favourites.
Appleton and Wilder’s appearances at the top of the bookies’ list is perhaps not a surprise, with Donald being a lifelong Oxford fan and aware of both candidates managerial acumen, but is there anything more to their appearances on top of the bookmaker’s odds?
Both managers have experience in the lower leagues, with Wilder having significantly more success but Appleton making a name for himself as a young, progressive coach.
Although Wilder’s greatest success came during his current spell at Sheffield United - where he won the League One title with 100 points last season - the previous season he won the League Two title (with 99 points) with Northampton Town, with Appleton’s Oxford in second place with 86 points.
Former Sunderland Echo journalist Graeme Anderson mentioned on Twitter that he has a contact who believes Appleton will be the next Sunderland manager:
A confident text message, (not from the club) telling me the next #safc manager is Michael Appleton.— graeme anderson (@sunechograeme) April 29, 2018
Could be bollocks.
We'll see how much in the know my contact is.
Whilst Appleton is currently favourite for the position - 7/4 at time of writing - Talksport’s Jim White spoke to Stewart Donald on his show (you can listen to that HERE) and afterward intimated that it was actually Wilder who is the chosen candidate.
Wilder’s current situation at Sheffield United seems to be up in the air due to boardroom wrangles, with the Blades boss mentioning at the weekend that he won’t stay at a club where he is unhappy if he is given an out:
Nobody has got a gun to my head to manage this football club. I’ve had it before when I’ve been at a football club and didn’t enjoy it. Where I thought ‘what am I doing here?’ I won’t make that mistake again.
I stayed when I had a chance to get out. I won’t make that mistake again.
Although no appointment can be made before the takeover is confirmed, should Donald approach either of the duo once he is confirmed as Sunderland’s new owner, you would suspect that both would be good choices to rebuild the team for a promotion push in League One.
Khazri discusses future
Wahbi Khazri has had a stellar season in Ligue 1 whilst on loan at Rennes and, after our relegation to League One, the Tunisian international will certainly be on his way out.
Speaking to RMC earlier this week, Khazri said it would be surprising if he stayed at Sunderland but he is leaving his future to his advisors while he concentrates on ending the season on a high:
My future? I’m only loaned to Rennes by Sunderland, but hey, it would surprise me that I stay in my club because Sunderland goes down to Division 3. Stay in Rennes? Yes, it is possible, I do not close any door for my future.
My advisers know that my priority is to finish the season well, but they have to work on it on their side, without necessarily talking to me about everything. I also know that if the World Cup goes well, for Tunisia and for me, it will open more doors for me. But that, I do not necessarily decide, neither interested clubs nor the timing of the offers. Then I will make my choice according to what will happen.
It is sure that by watching it on TV and wanting it, I would like to play the Champions League, to see if I am able to perform at the highest level. I think I can do it, but I would rather try to show it on the ground than to talk about it.
Khazri has been playing more as an actual striker this season, rather than his accustomed attacking midfield position, something he has been enjoying:
My current job? It is true that I have moved a lot lately, I have the chance to be versatile, it’s good for me. This season, in attack, I took pleasure, and before the goal I was put in good conditions by my teammates - that I thank again. I am decisive, in club and in selection, where I also play on point. So this attacking position I like a lot.
After such a good season with Rennes - who have no clause in his contract to make the move permanent - and with the upcoming World Cup to showcase his talent, we can be hopeful that a bidding war will start for Khazri’s services which could give the incoming manager a boost to his transfer kitty.
Borini close to completing permanent move
After a successful season on loan at AC Milan, Fabio Borini is set to complete a permanent move to the Italian giants.
According to Sportal.it, Milan are ready to exercise the clause in Borini’s loan contract that will make his move permanent for a fee of €6m (around £5.2m).
Former Sunderland scout Massimo Mirabelli, who is now Sporting Director at Milan, will meet with the Sunderland board in the coming weeks to sign the agreement which will end Borini’s up and down Sunderland career.
O’Neill on McGeady
Former Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill has been discussing Aiden McGeady’s international future after Sunderland’s relegation to League One. Despite dropping down another division and suffering from injury, O’Neill says McGeady hasn’t discussed possible international retirement but will wait until later in the year, when the player is fully fit before sitting down with McGeady:
First of all if the heel problem doesn’t clear up we will perhaps leave him for the summer time and see where we stand in the new year, but he hasn’t mentioned retirement.
It’s been a fall from grace for the football club for a start and I’m sure it’s not something he envisaged when he joined.
It’s not that long since he was playing in the Champions League.