Having left the cold and penguins of the Falklands behind, I send everyone at Roker Report greetings from the baking heat and humidity of my new home in Kuala Lumpur. I hope you are all doing well and staying positive.
It’s easy to feel cynical about everything associated with Sunderland given our recent history over far too many years. I’ve read many fans’ comments about a takeover that is just a redistribution of shares or a Sporting Director who isn’t good enough because he’s only from Birmingham or managerial candidates who aren’t big enough names. Believe me, I understand the cynicism but I want to end the year feeling positive about the future, so I’d like to offer a different perspective.
Being taken over by a young billionaire who is intelligent, well-connected and loves football is a fantastic opportunity for us. It puts us on a far more solid financial footing and will allow for proper investment in the infrastructure of the club.
I don’t want him to spend on big name players because we’ve done that and it didn’t work. I want him to invest in the club so that we have a youth system that is the envy of every club in the world. I want him to put a structure in place, so we have a production line of talent and that talent has a clear path to the first team. I want a structure in place so that the club has a clear identity and style of play that permeates every part of the club, from the senior first team to the youngest. I want everyone in key roles singing from the same hymn sheet.
A young billionaire with a proper vision could do this if he makes the right appointments.
What about the Chuckle Brothers keeping 20% of the club? I really don’t think it matters. They’re minority shareholders who are only hoping for a pay day at some point down the line. They’re not interested in running the club anymore so let’s just ignore them; they’ll disappear in the fullness of time and I really don’t think they’re anything to worry about.
If the rumours are true, and we’re about to appoint Kristjaan Speakman as Sporting Director, I see that as a huge statement of intent by the new owners. Finally, there is a clear indication that the club is moving towards a proper cohesive and holistic structure. Who cares if he’s only from Birmingham; who did people think a League One club was going to attract?!
The point is that he’s a man who has shown he’ll devote serious time to a club, and we need stability. He’s a man who is clearly intelligent. He’s a man who has been a success in every previous role he’s had and although being Sporting Director is a step up for him, there’s nothing to indicate he won’t be a success. He’s a rising star and that’s exactly what we need as Sunderland rises from the ashes of decades of mismanagement.
Most important of all in this appointment is that it shows where the new owners want to go with the club. They clearly want to make the most of our youth, and they want that youth to form the core of our club moving forward. Finally, this sounds like the fabled ‘Dortmund model’ we were promised and I really welcome that. Speakman sounds like the ideal man to put this philosophy into place so this is great news.
I hear lots of fans talking about Pearson or Keane being our best bet for a new manager but I disagree entirely. I’m not sure either would work well with a Sporting Director and I don’t care who they are, if they don’t buy into that overall vision, they have no place in our club. Keane especially is yesterday’s man but I don’t think either of them are long-term solutions, and we need a manager who will grow with us and stay long enough to provide stability. That just isn’t these two.
Personally I’d like to see the Cowley’s come in and once again, I don’t care in the slightest that they don’t constitute a ‘big name’ appointment. Like Speakman, they’re a rising star with a superb track record of success. They’re prepared to be flexible in their tactics, I think they’d buy into the vision for our future, and they’re obviously keen to join us.
For once, we would have a manager on an upward trajectory instead of a ‘big name’ who is on their way down. Appointing the Cowley’s would excite me a lot more than a short term appointment like Pearson.
We potentially stand at the dawn of a new era at Sunderland and if these appointments are made, I think we have a great future to look forward to at last. Perhaps my optimism is unfounded and I’ll be disappointed like so many times in the past but for now, I choose to be optimistic and reject the cynicism that all too easily consumes Sunderland fans after years of disappointment. Until some idiotic appointment like Keane, Pearson or Parky II comes along, I want to be positive because if we’re not going to cling to hope, what’s the point?