Sunderland Ladies appoint new head coach

Melanie Reay
Melanie Reay
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Melanie Reay has been appointed as head coach of the Sunderland Ladies team following the departure of Carlton Fairweather.

Reay, who has a wealth of experience both as a player and in a coaching capacity, has been associated with Sunderland Ladies for the last two decades.

Former Sunderland head coach Carlton Fairweather with new signings Dominique Bruinenberg (left) and Anke Preuss (right). Picture by FRANK REID

Former Sunderland head coach Carlton Fairweather with new signings Dominique Bruinenberg (left) and Anke Preuss (right). Picture by FRANK REID

And she has spoken of her joy at landing the head coach role.

"It is a great honour for me to manage this special club, which has been close to my heart for almost 20 years as a player, coach and now manager," said Reay.

"We have some great young players coming through and hopefully they can make their mark on the team which already has a host of good, experienced players.

"We will be looking to consolidate and improve together."

Reay replaces Fairweather, 55, who had worked as the boss of the Lady Black Cats for the last two seasons after taking over from Mick Mulhern, who left after guiding Sunderland to the top flight in 2014.

Fairweather, who had been employed as a coach in the club's Academy, stepped up to Ladies head coach, guiding the side to fourth place in their first season in the Women's Super League in 2015.

Last season was a struggle to avoid the drop, the team finishing seventh in the WSL1 table while reaching the Women's FA Cup semi-final where they lost heavily at Arsenal.

The sudden departure of Fairweather came as a shock with the manager having been preparing the squad for the start of the WSL1 Spring Series in April.

Sunderland AFC announced last month their decision to operate the ladies set-up as a part-time operation in a cost-cutting exercise, though Fairweather's role was expected to remain unchanged given a number of contracted players remained and were training day-times, not to mention preparation work for games.

However, it is understood the club's bosses approached the former Wimbledon star to carry on as the head coach, but only a part-time basis, an option he turned down.

A club statement added: "Former head coach Carlton Fairweather left his position with Sunderland AFC Ladies by mutual agreement and the club would like to place on record its sincere thanks to Carlton, wishing him well for the future."