Sunderland coach Liddle is axed

Craig Liddle.

Craig Liddle.

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CRAIG Liddle has been axed as Sunderland’s Youth Team coach.

The 41-year-year-old, whose full title was Professional Development lead coach at Sunderland, took up his position at the Stadium of Light in the summer of 2012 after quitting his job as caretaker coach at Darlington FC.

He was part of the staff which helped Sunderland’s Academy earn the coveted Elite Academy status.

But his time at the club has lasted barely 12 months, with the Academy now looking to re-structure and Liddle being regarded as surplus to requirements.

Sunderland are set to undergo big changes this summer as part of Paolo Di Canio and Ellis Short’s plans to look afresh at the way the club is run and how it has to change.

Liddle’s departure follows hot on the heels of the decision to part company with chief scout Pop Robson last month and to review the status of every scout employed by the club.

But the Echo understands that ending of Liddle’s employment has nothing to do with Paolo Di Canio’s new broom sweeping clean and is more part of an internal overhaul within the youth academy itself.

The former Middlesbrough and Darlington defender moved into football management in 2009 when he took up several caretaker roles as coach at Darlington, keeping the club together during troubled financial times before taking up the opportunity of youth coaching at Sunderland.

On his appointment he said that youth development was his real passion and this season he helped lead the Sunderland Under 18s to the top of Group Tier 1 in the Barclays U18 Premier League.

That saw the Under 18s qualifying for the end of season play-offs where they beat Aston Villa before losing 4-3 to Fulham in a dramatic semi-final.

Last weekend in the Football Echo, Liddle spoke of how proud he had been of his young players’ efforts.

“Second-half of the season, we couldn’t have asked for any more from the boys,” he said.

“We’ve performed to a very good standard and the thing that has pleased me is the attitude and the application on a day-to-day basis.”

At this stage, Sunderland are not looking to advertise for a new Professional Development lead coach and the likelihood is that Liddle’s duties will be shared out in-house.