Sunderland have announced that Graeme Murty - the Reading FC legend and former manager of Scottish giants Rangers - has taken up the post of Head of Professional Development Phase, which basically means he’s in charge of our U21s.
All great news, then, given we’ve not had anyone in that position full time for a while.
The man himself, in conversation with SAFC.com, had this to say:
I’ve been out the game for a little while, but I can’t wait to get started and get back on the training pitch working with the team. Everyone at the Club has been very welcoming and I’m looking forward to building on the foundations that have already been put in place to help to ensure our Under-21s continue to progress.
And Sunderland AFC’s Head of Football, Stuart English, seems delighted with the appointment given how much experience the new man brings to the table:
Graeme stood out to us as the natural candidate for this role. His experience in a playing and coaching capacity is something that can greatly benefit those in the Under-21s and beyond, and in addition to his coaching duties, he will also work closely with our players on an individual basis to create personalised programmes to further enhance their development. We believe he will be a great addition to our coaching team at the Academy of Light and we are delighted to welcome him to SAFC.
What does it all mean?
Well, for one it means our stuttering U21s side finally have a bit of stability, which hopefully means the only way is up for that particular group of players.
Murty was in charge of the U21s at Rangers, as well as holding the position of first team manager for a stint between 2017 and 2018, so he knows his onions.
As he admits himself he’s been out of the game a while, but that’s okay - not much has changed since he departed Rangers in November of last year (well, apart from energy bills).
From a recruitment perspective I was pretty impressed with the calibre of players that we brought in over the summer for the 21s squad, and after a period of bedding in the challenge now is for them to start improving results whilst also improving individually.
As with everything under the current setup, Murty’s appointment has, you’d like to think, been made with the long term in mind. He spent years at Rangers in a similar role for a reason, and you’d like to think that this is now a huge step forward for the academy.
I’ll be honest, I was a little underwhelmed by the appointment of Lewis Dickman and wasn’t at all shocked when he left, but it seems to have taken them a while to find someone new - but that doesn’t matter if the right man was found in the end.
I actually think this is a pretty exciting appointment, and I’m excited because traditionally Sunderland don’t go out and grab established names to work within the system. It reminds me a little bit of when Sheffield United gave their U23s job to Paul Heckinbottom, who was a well respected coach but had lost his way a little in the management game. Despite that, it was still seen as a really forward-thinking appointment and the benefits were immediately felt around the training ground - let’s hope Murty can have the same impact, over time, here at Sunderland.
Welcome to the club, Graeme!