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The Contenders (part two): Who else do the bookies think has a shot at the Sunderland job?

Tom Albrighton takes another look at the names the bookies are linking with the vacant Head Coach position - including a few outsiders...




Graham Potter - Ostersund, Swansea, Brighton, Chelsea - 466 games, 43.35%

Easily the most ambitious name on the betting list, Graham Potter would represent an enormous if not highly improbable coup.

Fresh from a chastening stint at Chelsea which we’ll gladly gloss over because it literally wasn’t his fault, Potter boasts an incredible career in football management. With a game based around possession, organisation and a passing identity, Potter has rightfully earned a glowing reputation in the footballing world.

Starting in the Swedish fourth division, Potter took Östersund to unimaginable heights, taking them to not only the Allsvenskan but the Europa League during his seven-year stint in charge. Following that a fairly successful stint at Swansea saw Potter appointed Brighton coach and the rest is history, guiding Brighton to a series of best placed finishes in the Premier League.

No stranger in taking his teams to unimaginable heights, it would be a costly appointment but if Potter could continue the underlying theme of his managerial career it would be an appointment that would pay back tenfold over time. If you aren’t convinced, having fans including Pep Guardiola and Marcelo Bielsa should sway the balance.

Chelsea FC v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

John Eustace - Kidderminster Harriers, QPR (caretaker), RoI (assistant), Birmingham - 173 games, 45.09%

Undeservingly and unceremoniously dumped by Birmingham whilst comfortably mid-table in favour of currently underachieving manager Wayne Rooney, the Birmingham link once again draws another man into the betting ring.

Eustace’s managerial career has been a stop-start affair with four years bridging the gap between managerial appointments. In that time Eustace spent periods as an assistant or caretaker manager before eventually being appointed gaffer at a struggling Birmingham.

To comment on his style of football would be disingenuous given Birmingham are a club rarely worth taking note of (sorry Kristjaan) especially when it comes to stylistic - but what you can’t argue against is Eustace taking a side destined for the drop and within just over a season at the helm leaving them on the brink of the playoffs.

Eustace would be another on the list that would represent a large gamble with his managerial career still in its infancy.

Birmingham City v West Bromwich Albion - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Kim Hellberg - A load of Swedish teams youve never heard of - unknown

Kim Hellberg is the name on everyone's lips thanks to news breaking last night in regards to being sounded out by the Sunderland board.

Unlike most, I won’t even begin to pretend I know anything about Hellberg other than what I could garner from the few articles written about his exploits at current club IFK Värnamo.

What we can gather (albeit without any real reliability) is that Kim likes to do things differently. More akin to the vibes-only football to the latter days of Mowbray's tenure, Hellberg's football doesn’t seem to focus on tactical rigidity and instead turns its attention to proactivity and reactivity to what pans out before them.

An interesting point in what is available to read is Kim's keenness to have 11v11 training sessions, posing players with problems they’re likely to encounter in game situations and tasking them with finding solutions.

The culmination of these methods from the 35-year-old Swede has seen Värnamo establish themselves at the top end of the Allsvenskan despite their tiny budget.

Hellberg is without doubt the most left-field option in the betting and the least known - sounds like a recipe for a Swedish Graham Potter if you ask me.


Steve Evans - various inc Rotherham, Leeds, Peterbrough - 1,182 games, 42.70%

I’ll be honest, Steve is only in here for my own enjoyment. Hiding at the bottom of the betting market at a lofty 33/1, there’s absolutely no chance of Steve getting the job and as such his price should be 10x what it is.

That aside, Steve has had a 30-year career in management and would boast more experience than half the list combined with over 1,000 matches under his belt. Evans isn’t always the most retiring of characters and his career attests to that with his fair share of controversy over the years.

Of course in our more lowly days, we have all crossed paths with the larger-than-life Evans and his distinct brand of shithousery but what can’t be held against him is he knows how to organise a team. His career, mainly forged in the lower leagues, has seen him take on all jobs from promotion pushes to salvation jobs and amazingly, more often than not, Steve has pulled off these managerial masterstrokes.

Great craic or otherwise, Evans has next to no chance of getting the job but given his on and off-field antics over the years it wouldn’t be fair to ignore the box-office Evans as he props up the betting market.

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