Steph Bannon thinks Melanie Reay will be a great success for Sunderland Ladies

Steph Bannon believes Sunderland have the right person to lead them forward in the new chapter in the Lady Black Cats story.

The Wearsiders have installed former striker Melanie Reay as their head coach for the Women’s Super League 1 Spring series.

Reay has picked up the baton from Carlton Fairweather, who managed Sunderland in Sunderland’s opening two seasons in WSL1.

Fairweather was removed from the post last month as the Lady Black Cats underwent a period of upheaval with a number of their star tuns leaving the club.

Captain Bannon, who signed a new deal to stay at the club, says it’s a brilliant move by SAFC to put their faith in Reay.

“It’s been a great appointment,” said the defender. “Mel has been involved in the women’s game at the highest level for such a long time, as a player and coach.

“She is in the England Under 23 set-up, she knows how the game works, knows this club inside out and will look to grab this opportunity with both hands.”

While women’s football is on the rise, that has not always been reflected in the amount of females in charge of teams – Reay is only the second after Chelsea’s Emma Hayes.

“It’s always good to see more women in the game,” said Bannon. “It does not matter to me if the manager is male or female as long as they are the right person.

“It’s fantastic a woman has been given an opportunity in WSL1 and I’m sure Mel will thrive on it.

“She’s a brilliant coach and brilliant person.

“Mel has worked as the right-hand-man to Carlton and did a good job.

“But it was done very much Carlton’s way and now she has the chance to make the decisions and stamp her authority on the role.

“I’ve played under [promotion-winning boss] Mick Mulhern and Carlton, both of who did great things at this club.

“Mick, Carlton and Mel have all been brilliant for Sunderland Ladies and now Mel has the chance to shine.

“She will want to coach at the highest level possible and what better way to start than at the club she has spent much of her football life.”

Sunderland went out of the SSE Women’s FA Cup on Sunday, losing 5-1 at Chelsea, having taken the lead through a Lucy Staniforth penalty.

The squad are now building up to the start of the WSL1 Spring Series, at Birmingham City on Sunday, April 23.