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Sunderland v Newcastle United - Emirates FA Cup Third Round

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Reader’s Corner: “Computer says NO!”

In this latest entry into Reader’s Corner, Gerard McAlroy gives his views on Michael Beale and the flexibility of the fabled ‘model’. Fancy writing? - send us an email!

Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

We were told we’re lucky; our club finally has a model and a plan to follow. Otherwise, we’d be in big trouble. The model is often spoken about by those in charge as something we don’t understand,

“whoooo, we’re not worthy!” Should surely be our collective response.

Maybe we do understand it, after all, the “plan” plays out in front of our eyes every week on the pitch, young, talented players practicing their trade, something that has been done for generations, with the odd superstar standing out among the kids and playing alongside the men. Surround a young player with experience; look at the impact Paul Bracewell had on our young midfield when we signed him back to play alongside Armstrong, Owers, and Atkinson. Incidentally, Bracewell is a player we wouldn’t even glance at today with our “model.”

The goal was the kid learned and became better. The often laughed at statement by Alan Hansen, “You don’t win anything with kids,” was said by Hansen when United fielded four or five kids, not nine, ten, or even eleven. That Man U team had Schmeichel, Irwin, Bruce, Pallister, a certain Mr. Keane in the middle, and a Cantona up front, playing regularly, not just kids. We have O’Nien and Pritchy. Hardly the same. Plus, their kids tended to be potential future England players; we barely have potential future Burnley players.

Having stated the obvious, you would think our club would have made some corrections; they’re not doing that. My own personal belief is that our kids were fine with an old hand off the pitch, Mr. Mowbray, a bloke who didn’t care what his title was; as far as he was concerned, getting the best from his players and our club was his job. However, for having independent experienced thoughts and bringing those thoughts to the table, he was sacked.

Sunderland vs Huddersfield Town Sky Bet Championship Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The “Model,” the idea that we don’t have a manager, we have a head coach, I am beginning to think is quite ridiculous and is a big reason for KLD et al to please get out of our club.

I was chatting to a mate of mine about top managers of yesteryear, not just Sunderland managers, a selection of “love em, or hate em” managers who could either motivate, organize, identify talent, or maybe just surround themselves with talented people. Make your list, our own managers like Dennis Smith, Peter Reid, and Roy Keane or managers who even managed abroad like Terry Venables, Bobby Robson, big personalities like Clough, Malcolm Allison, or Jack Charlton, quiet ones like George Graham, Kenny Dalglish, or Graham Taylor, all had qualities that improved the places they worked.

There’s one other thing they all have in common; I don’t believe any of them would work for KLD and Speakman. This is pretty big as things go because looking to the future, I don’t know how we progress without the human experience of a top manager to add the data of a personality and charisma when picking players. Currently, Speakman is the manager; he’s the bloke who thinks he is as good as any of the managers I’ve mentioned at picking talent and getting a group together for his coaches (whether head or otherwise) to organize and put on the field on Saturday.

I think a better mix of the old model and new model is called for, a real manager with the same voting rights as Speakman for signing players. Plus, if we are so statistically driven, then the statistics are proving Speakman wrong. The average age of the teams; Leicester 26.3, Ipswich 26.7, Leeds 24.8, Southampton 25.6, and the Championship division average age itself 26, should tell us that our squad with an average age of 23.1 is just not right.

A quick glance at the squads Brentford and Brighton got promoted with, the clubs often cited as Speakman’s “model” to follow, tells us both clubs had at least fifteen players over the age of twenty-five in their squads during their respective promotion seasons.

Mr. Speakman, we realise your computer is a bit slow, but we are not happy with the level of service, and the computer says no.


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