Chris Coleman and Kit Symons show their class despite not getting the chance to fulfil their Sunderland vision

It says all you need to know about Chris Coleman and Kit Symons that they upheld an agreement to take part in a Sunderland AFC charity bike ride for the Bradley Lowery Foundation - taking place just over a week after they were sacked.

Wednesday, 9th May 2018, 11:46 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th May 2018, 11:51 am
Chris Coleman and Kit Symons.

The pair were relieved of their duties at the Stadium of Light a week last Sunday, just before it was revealed Ellis Short had sold the club.

There was no place for the pair in Stewart Donald’s new-look Sunderland following relegation from the Championship.

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The takeover - still subject to EFL ratification - is a golden opportunity for a new beginning on Wearside, albeit starting from the third tier.

It was just a shame Coleman never got the chance to impose his vision for the club on Donald & Co.

Clearly, they wanted to go down a different route with Chris Wilder and Michael Appleton leading contenders.

Yet just days after the pair were shown the door, it was confirmed they would still be taking part in the Five Ferries Challenge, which started yesterday.

Ahead of the challenge, the club posted an awkward-looking picture on its official Twitter account of chief executive Martin Bain alongside Symons and Coleman, all in their cycling gear.

Oh to be a fly on the wall when that picture was being taken.

Bain and Coleman had a strong working relationship during his five-month stint on Wearside but it fell on Bain - who faces a very uncertain future himself ahead of Donald & Co taking charge - to deliver the news on behalf of the incoming new owners that the services of the former Wales boss were no longer required.

The harsh realities of football management, especially when a takeover is involved.

Coleman’s win ratio left a lot to be desired and ultimately he oversaw relegation to League One, capping off a humiliating couple of years for the club.

There are far wider problems, though, and you only have to take one look at the 2016-17 accounts, published last week, to realise that.

Coleman, after all, had just one transfer window while in charge and wasn’t allowed to spend a penny, instead relying on loan deals and a free agent.

Coleman was a class act and dealt with the issues facing Sunderland head on and with great dignity in very difficult circumstances.

He had a vision and was desperate to be given the chance to oversee the promotion bid from League One. Players had been scouted, target lists drawn up and pre-season plans put in place.

It wasn’t to be.

And we’ll never know if Coleman was the right man to lead the club forward under new owners, that responsibility will instead fall on someone else’s shoulders.

While they may not have much to live up to in terms of results, given Coleman’s record of just five wins, they will in terms of galvanising the Sunderland fanbase in the way Coleman did.

His persona, charisma and desire to integrate himself in the culture and fanbase shone through. From Coleman’s perspective, perhaps it was the right job but at the wrong time.

It says an awful lot about him and Symons that the pair were still determined to do their bit and help raise funds for the Bradley Lowery Foundation.

In total 31 staff members - including first team coach Robbie Stockdale, goalkeeping coach Adrian Tucker and Sunderland ambassador Kevin Ball - will compete the two-day challenge.

It involves cycling 52 miles across the Scottish islands, using five different ferry crossings in and around North Kintyre and Firth of Clyde to complete the route.

Every penny raised will go to the Bradley Lowery Foundation. To support them in their challenge visit