Phil Smith: Bain and Short need to get choice of Sunderland boss right, so where should they turn?

Martin Bain (left) and Ellis Short must get this appointment right for Sunderland.
Martin Bain (left) and Ellis Short must get this appointment right for Sunderland.
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Manchester United v Ajax may sound like a glamour Champions League final, but it is a reflection of how far both clubs have fallen that it will be Europe’s second competition that hosts the pair tonight.

Ajax, however, arrive in Stockholm riding the crest of a wave, with one of the contintent’s youngest squads leading a revival of Cruyffian principles.

Much of that is owed to their new manager, Peter Bosz.

Bosz is one of a number of managers to see their careers take off thanks to the success of Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv.

There, influential sporting director Jordi Cruyff, son of the great Johan, has overseen a period of sustained success and enhanced a number of reputations.

Pako Ayestaran, Oscar Garcia and Paolo Sousa all bolstered their reputation. So, too, did Slavisa Jokanovic, many Sunderland fans’ ideal candidate for the current Stadium of Light vacancy.

Cruyff’s success rate is not perfect but mightily impressive, and has drawn interest in his work from across the continent.

It is interesting to Sunderland, of course, because, during Cruyff’s tenure, Martin Bain, albeit briefly, spent time there as chief executive.

With the appointment of fellow Scot David Moyes as manager and former Rangers man Jimmy Sinclair in charge of the Academy, it is it is tempting to see his long tenure at Rangers as the defining spell of his career, particularly given the extraordinary drama that took place towards the end.

Asking former Ibrox manager Walter Smith for advice on Sunderland’s next appointment only serves to underline that feeling.

For many Sunderland fans, that news has been underwhelming.

Smith may been one Scotland’s finest managers, but he has been out of the game since 2011 and has never worked outside the UK. He was a magnificent manager for Rangers, part of a hugely successful regime north of the border, but Moyes’ struggles this season show how much the game appears to have changed.

The fear is of another appointment based on reputation and past success, rather than an assessment of what can suit Sunderland in the Championship and take them forward.

That may be a harsh assessment, as Smith is unlikely to be wielding much power, but Sunderland’s past record in appointing managers mean scepticism is natural.

The direction Bain decides to take is crucial.

It seems repetitive, but this truly is an appointment that will define Sunderland’s future.

All can see that the club are one or two more poor appointments away from true disaster.

Now, more than ever, Bain needs to get right what a Sunderland manager in 2017 needs to look like.

The time has surely come to find a manager on the upward curve, who will see coming to Sunderland as a major opportunity rather than a step backwards in their career.

It is not all down to Bain, clearly.

Ellis Short, too, needs to decide to what extent he is prepared to invest in Sunderland. Just how sapping landing his main target for five years and watching him fail will prove to be remains to be seen.

Bain will not be able to sell the club to a potentially successful manager without Short’s backing.

Certainly, Sunderland’s precarious finances, combined with a lack of clarity with regards to the ownership, make it hard to attract a manager who can transform the club’s fortunes.

Nevertheless, the Black Cats will need to find an outstanding manager to succeed.

To survive and thrive in the modern Championship, they will have to be at the cutting edge both tactically and when it comes to recruitment.

Bain might be better off calling in contacts in Tel Aviv than Rangers, if the two clubS’ very recent histories are anything to go by.