David Jones: Sunderland must get their next appointment right

Lee Congerton.
Lee Congerton.
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I don’t envy Lee Congerton right now.

The job of finding Sunderland’s next manager has fallen to him and it’s a task he has to get right; easier said than done.

Appointing the right manager is the hardest thing a football club has to do – it’s why we see such a huge turnover of coaches throughout English football.

Fifty five managers left their jobs this season through four divisions: when it goes wrong, when relegation threatens, when signings don’t work, when the chairman loses patience, the manager carries the can.

But the whole process of choosing managers in this country is flawed.

The NFL seem to have got it about right. Sure, they don’t have the threat of relegation to deal with, but they still have the pressure and expectation of their fans, media and their owners to deliver success.

But what they do have is a regimented, thorough recruitment process which gives them a better chance of success than the old English style: who do you know? Who have you heard of? Who was a great player?

Three questions that are absolutely irrelevant to finding a successful manager.

The Rooney Rule was a big help to the NFL.

It was introduced to American Football in 2003 with the aim of increasing opportunities for black and ethnic minority coaches.

The talent was there, but the coaches weren’t getting the chance to showcase their abilities to the employers, who kept giving jobs to people they knew, who were, by and large, white guys.

The Rooney Rule forced NFL teams to interview at least one BAME (black and ethnic minority) candidate when a head coach role became available.

So, instead of offering a job to the guy they knew, they were forced to interview more candidates, usually around five, one of whom just happened to be black.

There were no rules on quotas, but as a consequence of the Rooney Rule, the number of BAME coaches increased: owners were now being exposed to a greater quality of candidate than before.

In some form, it might work here.

Too often, the same people keep getting jobs; failing at one club, turning up at another.

I’m convinced that formalisation of the recruitment process in English football would see a rise in standards and a fall in the number of sackings year on year.

Clubs would take more time over their appointments, be exposed to more candidates and by consequence come to more informed decisions.

If that meant that more black coaches got a chance here than so be it, but I’m talking about clubs working harder to find the BEST man for the job.

It might be, as I suggested last week in social media, that Sunderland find the perfect man for them is one they had not even considered or perhaps even heard of at the start of the process.

Take Brentford, the most innovative club operating in English football right now, who are pushing the boundaries in all areas of our game.

Having scoured the globe to replace Mark Warburton they plumped for a Dutchman operating in the bottom end of the Eredivisie called Marinus Dijkhuizen.

On the face of it, it’s a strange choice and one their fans are probably scratching their heads about.

But they looked at what was relevant for them: a manager who has over-performed, with experience of winning promotion against the odds, the first manager to keep SVB Excelsior in the Eredivisie in its history, and a man with great humility.

I can say that with confidence because I met Brentford owner Matthew Benham a couple of months ago when the search was ongoing and he told me “humility” was his primary consideration in choosing a new manager.

Sunderland should be looking for a head coach who’s used to working in a demanding environment, who understands the particular demands of a passionate crowd starved of success, who has worked with limited resources and excelled beyond his available means.

I’m baffled by the clamour for Michael Laudrup on Wearside.

Great player yes, and, like Gus Poyet, he reached a cup final, where, unlike Poyet, he faced lower league opponents, but there was practically a players’ revolt at Swansea before he was replaced by a novice towards the end of last season.

As I write, Sean Dyche is the bookies’ favourite.

I would have no problem in him being the new manager if the search through Europe has been exhaustive and it’s decided he is the best man for the job.

I’m not bothered if our new manager played at the highest level, whether he has experience or whether he’s worked before in English football, but if one day he’s poached, and, as far as I can recall, that’s never happened to us before, it will be a sure sign that at last Sunderland got it right.