The removal of Phil Parkinson as manager of Sunderland AFC has sent a shockwave of figurative defibrillation throughout, and has given the fans something to be excited about yet again.
Although we’re all used to being let down when the major decisions are there to be made, I’m here to evaluate the early front-runners for the devastatingly poisonous chalice of being Sunderland manager.
The favourite with the bookies immediately after the sacking of Parkinson is Paul Cook.
Cook resigned as manager of Wigan Athletic after they were deducted 12 points for going in to administration. He had led Wigan to the League One title and has had many cup runs in recent seasons. Cook most famously led his Wigan side to a victory against Premier League champions Manchester City in the FA Cup.
In other jobs, he took Portsmouth to the League Two title before taking the job at Wigan and led Chesterfield to League Two promotion before that.
My Opinion: We could do much worse than hire Cook. The bloke knows how to get a team promoted and fire his sides up for the big games. He isn’t the most glamorous name out there though and will find it tough to initially impress the Sunderland fans if he was to get the job. 6/10.
The current favourite is Gustavo Poyet, mainly due to his recent soundbites claiming that he would welcome a return to the Stadium of Light. We all know what Gus is like and will likely forever remain a hero here for his legendary results against those up the road.
Poyet, however, has previous good form in League One, having had Brighton And Hove Albion promoted from the league in the 2010/11 season receiving the League One Manager of the Year award in the process.
My Opinion: Bring him back. He has a lot of unfinished business here at Sunderland and could take us back to the good days if he still has the passion and commitment to be a club manager. I’d love him back personally and I’d give his appointment a solid 8/10.
Second favourite is Danny Cowley, the former manager of Lincoln City and Huddersfield Town.
Both Danny and Nicky Cowley were attributed with the miraculous rise of now League One side Lincoln City from the National League and led Lincoln to be the first Non-Lague side to reach the Quarter-Finals of the FA Cup.
Having had a great start in their initial month at Huddersfield, they eventually went off the boil in the same season, and we’re almost relegated (which they would have been had they not beaten already promoted West Bromwich Albion on the last day of the season). They were both sacked after the chairman claimed that Huddersfield needs a ‘different vision’ to that of the Cowleys.
My opinion: Not exciting. Generally unproven with actual resources and a big club. Perhaps they deserve a second chance, but they would definitely need time to build a project here at Sunderland, and I’m not sure the fans have the patience to remain in this league for another season just to see if another manager can build something useful here.
Nigel Pearson (8/1 SkyBet) and Kevin Phillips (12/1 SkyBet) are another mooted duo linked as a management team to take the helm at Sunderland.
Pearson has a solid record of overachieving at clubs, ensuring a team of consistent triers and effervescent talisman defenders and would likely be the chief to assistant Kevin Phillips. Early twitter reaction would insist that Phillips is exactly what we need back at Sunderland, a fans favourite and all-round actual living footballing legend back at the helm. He certainly would bring a morale boost, but in the days of COVID, we would lose the boost from the crowd reaction, which would be vast, inside the Stadium of Light.
Pearson was treated dreadfully at Watford, having kept the club away from relegation for his stint there, and was still sacked with two games left (which saw Watford defeated twice and relegated). He also recently had a stint at small Belgian side OH Leuven which was largely uneventful.
My opinion: A strange one for me, this. Nigel Pearson on his own would be a great appointment. I’d love to see Phillips back at the club, don’t get me wrong and I would like to see where he would get to as a manager... I just don’t think the best, first, job for him to have is with ourselves. This is likely an unpopular opinion and for that I apologise. 5/10