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The Contenders: Who are the favourites with the bookies for the Sunderland Head Coach job?

Which potential Sunderland Head Coaches are the favourites for the job with the bookies, and what could they possibly bring to the table?

Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

Will Still - Lierse, Beerschott, Reims - 70 games, 48.57%

Will Still isn’t a household name as such but most will be aware of him thanks to the bizarre scenario that saw his club Reims pay a €25,000 fine every time he took charge. Aside from that zany trivia, Will Still has quietly forged his way in the game in a unique manner, eventually working his way to being head coach at Ligue 1 side Reims.

Still started off his tenure at Reims with a 17-game unbeaten streak drawing much attention from across Europe. Will Still has received plaudits for his attractive style of football with a large emphasis on tactical superiority and aggressive defensive work.

These are two features that would likely remedy Sunderland's main shortcomings this season, and with Still aged just 31 also matches the modus operandi of recruiting young.

This would also match the young squad neatly, and teamed with Stills's fluency in French it could help communications drastically.

RC Lens v Stade de Reims - Ligue 1 Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Julien Sable - Saint Etienne (assistant/interim), Nice B, Nice (assistant) - 6 games, 0%

Julien Sable more than likely heads the betting thanks to the combination of being French and assistant to a former managerial candidate of our own Francisco Farioli.

Sable spent most of his 465 game career at Saint Etienne, whereby after a 7 year stint away from the club returned under the guise of various coaching roles. Simply put, Sable is Saint Etienne’s very own Kevin Ball. In 2022 Sable made the move to Nice to coach their B team before being promoted to become Farioli’s assistant.

With rakes of experience as an assistant, Sable falls woefully short when it comes to management with a mere 6 games at the helm, usually bridging the gap between managerial appointments. Not much information is available on Sable as a result and his 0% win record is easily attributed to Saint Etienne dabbling in some Sunderland-esque turmoil over the years.

Sable would represent the biggest risk on the list.

Stade de Reims v AS Saint-Etienne - Ligue 1 Uber Eats Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Steven Schumacher - Plymouth Argyle - 105 games, 53.33%

Schumacher's name was first mentioned the morning after Mowbray's departure as part of an elaborate betting ploy of a group of Plymouth fans, but that ploy could yet turn sour.

Schumacher succeeded Ryan Lowe at Argyle with them sitting comfortably in League One. After steering Plymouth to a promotion push that ultimately fell just short of the playoffs, Schumacher returned Plymouth to football's second tier the season after.

Another manager on the list lauded for his astute tactical approach, Schumacher has duly built on the foundations left by Ryan Lowe and turned Plymouth into what looks to be a steady Championship side - with a recent victory and tactical masterclass handed to Sunderland in the process.

Argyle fans would most certainly be gutted to see the 39-year-old depart a mere 2 years into his tenure but with youth on his side and a more than decent 53% win ratio, Schumacher won’t be just on Sunderland’s managerial shortlist.

No stranger to youth and defensive organisation, Schumacher again boasts attributes that coincide with Sunderland's current aims, and whilst Plymouth's away form reads somewhat less pleasingly than their home form it is undeniable that Schumacher is doing a grand old job at Argyle.

Plymouth Argyle v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by MB Media/Getty Images

Lee Carsley - various Man City u18, Birmingham u23, England u20/u21 - 52 games, 61.5%

Lee Carsley is the most left-field of the four candidates here but arguably the most interesting.

Boasting a managerial career that has spanned over a decade Carsley has held a series of positions with notable periods at both Manchester City and Birmingham. Of course, the Birmingham link ties him to Kristjaan Speakman but with stints at both England u20 and u21 levels Carsley has spent his fair share of time in the elite footballing environments Sunderland are looking to create.

With a good win ratio also comes the accolade of winning the Under 21 European Championships and the weight of expectation that is regularly placed upon all England sides, as well as a coaching career almost entirely dedicated to youth football.

Perhaps most interestingly Carsley spent time primarily as an “out of possession” coach, tying in neatly with his favoured position of defensive midfield in his playing days. This role suggests he has an acute awareness of defensive structures, and given his current England U21s side have been noted to play with little inhibition, Carsley could be a high-risk, high-reward option for Sunderland’s hierarchy.


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