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On This Day (31st May 2009): Mancini ‘honoured’ to be offered the Sunderland job

Can you imagine if Sunderland had managed to convince Roberto Mancini to take over as manager before he ended up at Manchester City? It very nearly happened...

Photo by Claudio Villa - Inter/FC Internazionale via Getty Images

It seems such a distant memory now, but at one stage Sunderland were being linked with heavyweight names in the game for players and managers.

Having just survived by the skin of their teeth the previous season, chairman Niall Quinn and his board were seeking a new boss to lead the charge ahead of the 2009/10 campaign.

With Ricky Sbragia relinquishing his position, Steve Bruce was the favourite to take over the job. Bruce was at Wigan at this stage, and their chairman Dave Whelan was driving a hard bargain in order to let go of his man - apparently demanding around £3m to give him up.

It appeared, if even for just a brief time, that this figure led to Sunderland exploring alternative options for their managerial position. Reports on this day briefly suggested that former Inter Milan manager Roberto Mancini had been offered the job, and even suggested he was going to take it.

Speaking to Sky Italia, Mancini stated:

I am honoured to have had an offer from Sunderland Football Club. It is a fantastic opportunity. It will be truly wonderful to lead such a prestigious and historic club in England after a year of sitting on the sidelines.

I feel I am ready to start again with immense enthusiasm.

Mancini would have been a remarkable coup for Sunderland at this time, with the glittering CV filled with domestic success in Italy. He was sacked by Internazionale 12 months previous despite leading the club to three successive Serie A titles, and had been out of football since leaving San Siro.

It certainly would have suggested a step up in class and the sort of name that the club were chasing. Niall Quinn used to always suggest his burning desire to bring Sunderland to the ‘next level’ - and this appointment would have fit the bill.

Sunderland v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

With the Mancini quotes spreading across social media platforms, there was excitement at the thought of obtaining his services. Fans began to consider the types of players the club would attempt to buy and whether we could compete for European places.

It was a romantic notion and it certainly was the favourable option amongst supporters, considering the other was Steve Bruce.

Within 24 hours, the fans’ dreams were crushed - Mancini would not be coming to Sunderland.

His agent, Giorgio De Giorgis, told PA Sport that Sunderland had not been in touch.

He said:

Mancini is aware of those reports. But we have not received an offer, nor have we been in touch with anyone from Sunderland.

There has been interest from English teams but Sunderland is not one of them.

However, no official offers have been made.

And that was that - our fanbase flirted with the notion for no more than a day. It was too short to get too invested in it, but it certainly would have been a fascinating appointment.

Mancini’s agent was correct when he stated there was interest from English clubs.

In December of the same year, Mancini arrived in England, taking over as manager of Manchester City, and would go on to achieve the Premier League title with them in the most spectacular of circumstances.

Considering the success he had with them, one can only wonder what we might have achieved under his stewardship.

Alas, it did not occur, and Steve Bruce was appointed three days later.

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