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Who is Sunderland’s new assistant manager? The lowdown on former Hamilton boss Martin Canning

Joining Alex Neil at Sunderland is former Hamilton Academical manager Martin Canning - here’s what we know about the 40-year-old...

Sunderland have appointed Alex Neil as the new head coach on a rolling 12-month deal - and he has brought with him his former team-mate at Hamilton Academical, Martin Canning, to be his assistant.

Canning succeeded Neil as Hamilton boss, initially as caretaker, once the new Sunderland head coach had departed for Norwich City in 2015 and was in charge of the Scottish club for four years.

Hamilton owner Ronnie MacDonald was full of praise for Canning and the job he did for his club (via LinkedIn):

Martin was Club Captain, coaching youths and studying for his coaching qualifications after eleven years service when Alex Neil (Hamilton Manager) left to join Norwich City FC.

At the age of 34, he carried out his duties in a dignified and exemplary manner.

He retained our Premier League status for four seasons whilst introducing and developing youngsters into his teams. I have no hesitation in recommending him to any club.

Once Canning left Hamilton himself, he visited a variety of clubs, including the likes of Real Betis, Celtic and Leicester City, to expand his coaching horizons and as he studied for his UEFA Pro Licence.

26/01/19 LADBROKES PREMIERSHIP.CELTIC v HAMILTON.CELTIC PARK - GLASGOW.Hamilton Manager Martin Canning arrives at Celtic Park Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group via Getty Images

It was during this spell of coaching that Canning had his first experience of Sunderland, as he visited the Academy of Light for a spell under Jack Ross.

Speaking to the Daily Record about those experiences, Canning explains it was all about learning more about the game as he believes he got into management with Hamilton too quickly:

Real Betis was good. I flew to Madrid because they were playing Atletico that night.

I went to the team hotel to collect my tickets and got to meet all the staff. That was excellent.

After the game I got the train to Seville and spent three days at training with Betis.

It’s amazing how different it was. It was all with the ball.

It was very slow tempo, passing patterns. Over here, intensity is everything. It’s all about get it back, get it back, get it back.

In Spain, they didn’t care about the intensity. It was so technical, which is a completely different way but great for me to see.

I’ve also been down to Preston to see Alex Neil. I’ve been in at Leicester with Brendan Rodgers, Celtic with Lennon, Aberdeen with Derek McInnes. I’ll go down to Sunderland in the next couple of weeks to see Jack Ross.

It’s all learning for me I’ve been naive at times to think I know everything. But I went straight from playing into management when I probably wasn’t ready for it.

It was a case of sink or swim. I managed to fight through it and get on top of what I was trying to do.

Given my experience, keeping Hamilton up was a huge achievement.

As well as the spell as Hamilton boss, which included a short period where he was player-manager, Canning played for Ross County, Hibernian and at doomed Scottish club Gretna.


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