Sunderland shareholder Charlie Methven has given a revealing interview with Sasikumar Ramu’s YouTube channel, where the club’s former director goes into detail about some of the decisions the he and the club made after Stewart Donald’s takeover was confirmed.
Methven reveals why former Wales manager Chis Coleman was removed from his managerial position and what qualities his replacement Jack Ross had that made him the ideal man to be Sunderland manager:
We appointed the new manager. Chris Coleman and Kit Symons are very respected managers but they were part of the cost base that just couldn’t be sustained.
Chris Coleman, when you’ve got to the semi-final of the European Championships, you don’t work for a third division salary, you work for a Premier League salary and all the accoutrements that come with a Premier League salary.
Again, we felt that the club had to re-base, we felt very strongly that the club couldn’t pretend to be a Premier League club any more.
If it’s going to succeed, it has to understand and comprehend the competition that it’s actually in and almost have enough respect for your competition to then to be able to succeed.
So we then needed a manager who is going to be excited to be in the third division because it was a step up to manage Sunderland and who had come into that job with fresh, positive energy and would help us with our reset.
As part of that cost-cutting, numerous players were shown the door. Some willingly, as they looked for opportunities to play at the highest level possible and those that were unwilling to leave if it meant taking a pay cut:
There were some players, some honourable players, who wanted to leave who said ‘look, even if I have to take a pay cut, I want to play at the highest level I can possibly play’.
It was a case for those players, of trying to find them the right club for them to go to and there were several examples of that.
A top player from the last World Cup, Wahbi Khazri, the Tunisian playmaker, Wahbi was very clear ‘I want to play in top division football and if it means that I earn less, that’s fine. I just want to play at a great level of football’.
So he went to St-Etienne and we received £6m from St-Etienne and that was very helpful.
Khazri right from the start was very football orientated, it’s all about football, money comes afterwards, I have no interest in money, it’s all about football and then you have other types of players who are like ‘well no other club is going to pay me what my contract at Sunderland is, so I’m going to stay here’.
In some cases, I think that meant indicating to them in the most tactful way possible that their life at Sunderland from now on would not be all that enjoyable and probably they would be best served by looking elsewhere and they were under an illusion if they felt that Sunderland was going to carry on being this easy place to be for guys on big money and it would be a bit more uncomfortable than that.
Of course in two or three of the player’s cases we fired them and then sued them, it was a case by case basis but in the end we did it.
One of those players was Jack Rodwell and Methven says it was made clear to the former England international that life at the Stadium of Light would not be comfortable for him if he chose to remain:
We spoke to him and we spoke to his representatives and for some reason he decided he didn’t want to be part of Sunderland any more after those conversations.
I think it was intimated to him in those conversations that probably he wouldn’t enjoy himself, it would be tough.
I think the problem is that by then his reputation had really deteriorated and had got to the point where a lot of clubs were very wary of a player who had a reputation for not being that enthusiastic about playing football and I think Sunderland ‘Til I Die season one really hurt him in that way but, nonetheless, in the end he did get a club and he went to Blackburn. I think since then he’s gone somewhere else but fundamentally for all of us that have ambitions for English football, it’s been a disappointing career.
When he came through at Everton, he was very much reckoned to be the next big thing.
You can watch the Sports Stories with Sasi interview with Charlie Methven in full by pressing play on the YouTube video below: