Tony Gillan: Sunderland can't rely on sentiment when appointing their new manager

Discussing the identity of a football club’s next manager is a futile exercise.

Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 12:45 pm
Sam Allardyce

The only conversational topic even more pointless is: “Who would you like in the next round of the cup?”

Unless you happen to be in a position to decide the matter, presenting detailed arguments for who the next manager should or shouldn’t be, is a pastime for those whose minds are too shrivelled to be occupied by matters of greater merit or import.

That would be me then.

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It might be pointless and facile, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining. I also enjoy discussing the ideal opposition in the next round of the cup, as well as my first move after winning the National Lottery – which I never actually enter.

Anyway, the most popular choice among the fans would be the prodigal return of Sam Allardyce.

While perhaps not out of the question, this doesn’t sound very likely either. Allardyce is likely to be wanted by some or other Premier League club before long.

There is nothing obvious luring him back to Wearside. Sunderland could only offer him a fraction of the salary he was on in 2016. Chris Hughton too will be able to take a role higher up than League One.

So who? Facing the Sunderland board are perfectly cogent arguments against all of the names being bandied around.

Kevin Phillps has made no secret of wanting the job. But other than being a great player for the club, on what basis would he be offered it?

What exactly does the statement “He knows the club” even mean in practice?

It was sentiment that landed Ole Gunnar Solskjær the job at Manchester United. After an all-conquering start, it isn’t going well. Frank Lampard hasn’t improved Chelsea either.

It was felt by many that by leaving St Mirren for Sunderland, Jack Ross had entered a different world and didn’t know what he was getting into.

While this is doubtful, it doesn’t bode well should Sunderland appoint Gareth Ainsworth who has only ever managed Wycombe Wanderers. The same applies to Daniel Stendel, whose sole job in English football was at Barnsley.

Some have called for the return of Roy Keane, who hasn’t managed for almost nine years and whose last job was the very bad one he did at Ipswich Town.

Nigel Pearson’s last three jobs at Leicester, Derby and in Belgium, did not end well either. Nigel Clough’s record is decent, rather than outstanding.

And how excited, on a scale of “horror” to “shoulder shrug”, would any of the following names make you? Gary Rowett, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Mark Robins, Nigel Adkins, Phil Parkinson, Steve McClaren.

No. Me neither.

The waters are muddied further because every name mentioned also bears some sort of recommendation. They have all had their successes. Even McClaren.

Let’s be honest. No one really has a clue. There was excitement when Martin O’Neill got the job; and relative indifference when it was Peter Reid. But guess what...

Whoever is appointed we look forward to people ringing radio stations at the end of the season to claim they’d said all along that oo-jah would be great/useless.

Nobody ever calls to admit they were wrong. The SAFC board of SAFC don’t have this advantage of hindsight.

So we wish them every luck.