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Sunderland’s new coach will need to be different and driven

As the Mowbray era comes to an abrupt end and the list of candidates continues to swell, we have to ask: what type of manager does the club need at this point in time?

A Sable-ising appointment?
| Photo credit should read ROMAIN LAFABREGUE/AFP via Getty Images

The speed of Tony Mowbray’s departure has only really been matched by the speed of the names placed on the list of candidates to replace him.

The favourite, it seems, is the Nice number two, Julian Sable. Given KLD’s links with southern French football, it might have some credence, as might Will Still at Reims. Although they are currently fifth in the French top division, his success story at the helm looks to be continuing. Closer to home, Paul Heckingbottom was barely out of Sheffield United’s training ground before he was linked with the job, and Plymouth’s Steven Schumacher has been tossed into the frame alongside Ipswich Town’s Kieran McKenna. McKenna’s Tractor Boys sit second in the division, so why he would want to jump to the Stadium of Light is beyond me. Former Birmingham boss John Eustace is also tipped, and many Blues fans are still baffled as to why he was dismissed, other than the new owners seeking to appoint a name that appealed to the US market.

Ex-Palace owner Simon Jordan thinks Frank Lampard would be the answer, but his track record is far from convincing by any stretch of the imagination.

Chelsea FC v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

If we take a step back from the names and the noise, we need to consider what type of head coach we are looking for. It is clear Speakman is the man who decides who comes through the door in terms of players, so they will have to buy into the management’s vision for the club and its future.

Sustainable growth means we won’t be buying big anytime soon, and the model is clearly to scout talented youngsters, develop them, and either build the team around some while others are sold for multiples of their cost.

The squad we have has potential in abundance and contains players who are more than at home at this level, such as Ballard, Clarke, Roberts, Pritchard, Hume, Patto, Ekwah, Neil, and Alese, to name a few. We have Cory Evans making his way back from long-term injury, surrounded by some highly talented young players such as Jobe, Ba, Bennette, Riggs, Aouchiche, Mayenda, and the yet-to-be-seen Pembélé.

When Mowbray came in, the club was in shock following the sudden departure of Neil, and rumours were that there were players keen to join him.

He steadied the ship, got the team playing some great football, and we marched up the division despite issues around a lack of strikers and injuries to most of the squad who were over six feet tall.

Millwall v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - The Den Photo by Rhianna Chadwick/PA Images via Getty Images

You have to believe the next coach is being assessed on their ability to continue developing this squad, getting the best out of those they inherit, and building for a promotion push in the coming two years, by which time the board will expect we have the capability to more than simply survive in the Premier League.

They’ll need to be a real man-manager, and that includes managing their relationship with the likes of Speakman and KLD as much as it does managing a squad that needs to start playing like a team. To do so, the new coach will need a huge amount of tactical awareness. We will not be throwing money around in January, so they will need to implement a playing style that can get the best out of what they have at their disposal. Clearly, we are not a squad that can put 11 men behind the ball and hope to live off a few chances on the breakaway.

It is likely we will need to play a high pressing game, but there will need to be some real nuances. The thing Mowbray did have was the ability to get his young charges to enjoy playing football last season. This year, the smiles have not been on the faces, and it has shown in the performances.

Maybe it’s time to get a young, talented manager who has cut their teeth abroad and can bring with them a fresh vision. The arrival of a young, relatively unknown French coach at Highbury in the 1990s didn’t do Arsenal too much harm. We have to hope our scouting team is just as good at identifying young talented coaches as they are when it comes to the playing staff.


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