Kevin Phillips reveals his managerial Sunderland plan and why he could be the right man for the job
Former Sunderland striker Kevin Phillips believes he’s ready for the world of senior management and says his side would play an ‘attacking’ and ‘positive’ brand of football.
The 46-year-old has already expressed an interest in the vacant role at the Stadium of Light following the departure of Jack Ross earlier this week.
Sunderland fans may question if Phillips, who scored 130 goals for the Black Cats as a player, is the right fit due to his lack of managerial experience.
But, following recent coaching roles at Leicester, Derby and Stoke, Phillips is now looking to become the main man in the dugout.
“Of course, I am interested in the job,” said Phillips when asked about his interest. “When the job came up last time before Jack took it, was I ready? I probably would have said yeah, I’d love to have taken it.
“But now, 18 months down the line… I know I haven’t worked since January at Stoke, but I am 46 years old, I have a lot more experience on my side - not just in football, but in life, dealing with people.
“I’ve watched the club closely, I’ve followed them, I’ve spoken to a lot of people, friends who go to games home and away. There is not an awful lot wrong at the football club. Things just need tweaking a little bit, left and right.
“Maybe they just need someone in there, and I’m going to talk myself up now, someone that can relate to the players, that’s been there not that long ago and they haven’t had that.
“When you look at the managers since 2013, I think they’ve had 11 managers, none of them have been able to get it going. Maybe they need to try a fresh approach. Of course, yes, I’d love to have the opportunity.”
Phillips was back in the North East on Thursday evening to pay tribute to his former manager Peter Reid at special dinner event hosted by the Football Writers’ Association.
And the former marksman, who also admitted he’s enquired about other jobs since leaving Stoke, says he’s been in touch with the Sunderland hierarchy.
“We have reached out,” said Phillips when asked if he’s contacted the Sunderland owners. “I’m not going to divulge whether they got back to me or not. But I certainly put my hat in the ring, let’s put it that way and we’ll just see what happens in the next 24-48 hours.”
Phillips, who played for several clubs and also won eight caps for England as a player, says he’s learnt a great deal from all his managers who all implemented different tactics and styles of play.
The former frontman believes those experiences will stand him in good stead for the next stage of his career.
“I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve worked with some great managers in my time as a coach,” added Phillips. “Steve McClaren, Paul Clement, Nigel Pearson. It’s been a great learning curve - how to deal with players.
“Man management for me is key. I have learnt an awful lot in a short space of time. Coupled with my experience as a player and the way I can talk to players and relate to players, I’m not saying it’s going to be the perfect formula, but I think it’s a massive advantage.
So whether it’s at Sunderland or another club, what could fans expect from a Kevin Phillips side?
“Attacking, positive football,” he replied. “Why would you want to go into a game and want to draw it and not win it?
“I’d rather lose it having a go, than coming away from a game drawing and thinking we didn’t really have a go today. I think supporters relate to that. Without playing kamikaze football, have a go and try and win a football match. I think we’d all enjoy watching that.”
Still, Phillips knows his popularity alone isn’t enough to land him the coveted manager’s job at the Stadium of Light, with a need for results and, ultimately, promotion.
“I wouldn’t say that was the be all and end all,” said Phillips when asked about his relationship with Black Cats supporters.
“You look at Woody (Jonathan Woodgate) down at Middlesbrough and it’s been a bit of a struggle for him, even though he has got that relationship with the supporters.
“Ultimately for me, it’s about getting results on the football pitch. Having watched a lot of Sunderland, I would have my own views, my own ideas of how to win football matches.
“Of course, if I was to go into the club in any capacity, the relationship with the fans would be there straight away, but that counts for nothing ultimately. Anyone who goes in will have a job to do, and that’s finding a way to win football matches. It’s as simple as that.”
Phillips has also taken encouragement following the recent appointments of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard at Chelsea and Rangers respectively, and hopes that more young managers and former players will now receive opportunities.
“I think it’s great. These players have had so much experience, they’ve won everything, they’ve done everything,” added Phillips. “
“As a young player coming through in the squad, if you’ve got a gaffer in front of you that has been there, seen it and done it, and that’s no disrespect to anyone else, I would want to learn off that.
“I remember when I played at Sunderland under Peter Reid, I hung on to his every word because he has been there, seen it and done it.
“That’s not to say I wouldn’t hang on to a Jose Mourinho because he is a great coach, but it’s something different when you know they have been there, because you can ask them different questions. What was it like when you were in that situation? How did you handle that? To me that makes the difference.”
Phillips will hope for a similar opportunity as his former England team-mates, whether that chance comes at Sunderland or elsewhere.