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What’s the most important thing to consider when appointing Sunderland’s new manager?

“I’ve realised that the candidates that I’d prefer are out of reach and we could do a lot worse than appointing someone who’s got experience of achieving automatic promotion from League One” writes Chris Wynn.

New Sunderland Owner Stewart Donald Press Conference Photo by Sunderland AFC/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Fear has currently engulfed many of the supporters of Sunderland AFC; fear of investors not providing the backing we need for long term financial security and - arguably more importantly for the future of the club - fear of a prolonged stay in League One. Each time feelings become heated it all seems to boil down to uncertainty. On this occasion questions that either can’t be answered for legal reasons or without the need of a crystal ball.

As a little green Jedi fella once said: “Fear leads to anger… anger leads to hate…” and Stewart Donald has seen where this was leading when he retreated his social media presence.

Repercussions such as this are inevitable when fear levels increase and as a result comments become more reactionary and anger driven. Anger must surely be the driving force, otherwise it is difficult to understand exactly what leads to someone threatening a person regarding a decision where nobody has the answer.

The first question I find myself asking is “what could possibly be gained by doing this?” - do they think threats will make Stewart Donald realise how big this decision is and he’ll suddenly focus on the task in hand to make the correct decision?

Middlesbrough v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship
Paul Cook - currently one of the bookies favourites for the Sunderland job
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Eventually the conclusion is that these people must fall foul of the post hoc fallacy and believe that their threats must actually have a bearing on the outcome of where the threat was aimed.

As a result of recent events, and the ongoing heated debate around who Sunderland’s 37th permanent manager will be, we may potentially end up with a decision impacted by either the decision makers becoming influenced by the loudest voices or candidates who remove themselves from consideration.

Recently, a strong reaction was seen as Phil Parkinson became heavy favourite to land the job. This will no doubt provide the owners instant feedback on a candidate and may then be a factor in the decision making process when it is provided in the right manner and in large numbers.

Fear however, dictates that feedback is not only given in a manner that shifts focus from the job in hand but also in a way that allows the most threatening or offensive comment to become the loudest when the red mist descends and clouds any judgement before submitting a comment to the bubble of social media.

Every fan has an opinion and it’s interesting that, although we seem to have a lot of consensus who shouldn’t get the job, for the first time in many years the list is long and we have no consensus on who should get the position.

Tranmere Rovers v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League One
Phil Parkinson
Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

A lot of this is down to the position the club finds itself being in the third tier so soon after our longest period in the top division for decades. It’s difficult to accept and hard to readjust to what our rightful place. The fear then kicks in when you consider that we could become a League One club for more than two years.

Returning to the Championship is by some distance the main consideration to take into account when deciding our new manager and whatever follows is for another day. We find ourselves at yet another crossroads and the appointment must be the first step in the right direction with a single aim.

Flicking back through the records of previous managers to return some of the bigger clubs to the second tier, the list includes the appointment of Kenny Jackett at Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2014, Simon Grayson at Leeds United in 2010 and more recently Chris Wilder at Sheffield United in 2017, where only Kenny Jackett had experience managing in the Championship.

Each of those names weren’t the household names the sets of fans were probably expecting and no doubt started their role from a position of having to win the fans over with immediate results - a situation that, especially after recent events, I fully expect our new manager to face in the coming weeks. I’ve realised that the candidates that I’d prefer are out of reach and we could do a lot worse than appointing someone who’s got experience of achieving automatic promotion from League One.

Reality kicks in when I see who has been interviewed so far, but so it should, we’re in League One and some of the names mentioned have won this division and others achieved automatic promotion so they may not be my first choice, or even second choice, but their records say they have as much chance as anyone else to be the right choice.

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