BOB STOKOE breezed into Roker Park this morning to take up his appointment as manager of Sunderland AFC with the air of a man who know what he wants to achieve. And he intends to lose no time over making himself familiar with the team structure he is taking over and deciding the right way to tackle the task of winning back the ground which has been lost in terms of League position.
“I am delighted to be here and could not be more excited about the job I am taking on,” he said. He has seen Sunderland in action only three times in the last year and on each occasion they had figures in draws with Blackpool. Apart from Wolves, who were 11-0 winners in the League Cup last night, he said that Sunderland were the best side seen at Bloomfield Road this season and it was surprisingly to see them where they are in the Second Division table.
“Two points from the bottom of the table is not a very happy position, but there is still a long way to go. We will be fighting very hard to improve. I have been too long in the game to set targets and we will be taking each game as it comes, but I am confident things will go well.”
Mr Stokoe’s programme after a press conference was to have lunch with his new directors, after which he would be meeting the players.
He did not intend to get down to training this afternoon, but planned to have a meeting with the players behind closed doors tomorrow for a heart-to-heart talk to get their views on the situation.
“Words can come very easily” he said “and we can talk about ambition and all kinds of things. But everything depends on the players and they are the people upon whom we will be depending for success.”
When asked whether he would be on a long term contract, Mr Stokoe passed the question over to club chairman Mr Keith Collings, who said: “Mr Stokoe was so keen to come that we have not yet finalised this, but we will be getting down to it.”
Although he declined to mention names, Mr Stokoe said that he would be bringing his own trainer-coach, probably within the next week. Discussions had already taken place. The position of Mr Billy Elliott, who has been operating as caretaker-manager for the last month, would also be discussed later this week.
His first view of the team from a new angle will be against promotion pace-makers and favourites, Burnley, at Roker Park on Saturday. Burnley have not lost an away game since they were beaten 4-3 at Roker Park on Easter Monday after leading 3-1 at one stage.
“This will be an early sign of what the players are capable of, because Burnley have been the most consistent side in the Second Division this season. There was no lack of effort under Mr Alan Brown nor since Mr Brown left and I am sure we will get the same effort on Saturday.”
Mr Stokoe side-stepped questions on whether he would be buying or selling, but Mr Collings took up the point on whether there might be additions to the playing staff. “Money will be made available for Mr Stokoe if he requires it,” he said.
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on November 29 1972.