Sam Allardyce can finally lay some solid foundations at Sunderland if the Black Cats beat the drop, believes goalkeeper Vito Mannone.
Sunderland’s knack of annually scraping top flight survival faces the acid test on Saturday, with defeat at fellow relegation rivals Norwich City potentially condemning the club to the Championship.
I think there’s the base and the right man in charge to be in a better position.Vito Mannone
Poor recruitment, a lack of leadership and a managerial merry-go-round have been key factors in Sunderland’s struggles over the last four years, yet the Black Cats will only have themselves to blame if they go down this season after failing to convert positive displays into wins over the last two months.
However, the upturn in performance levels since Allardyce was able to reshape the squad in the January transfer window have created hopes that the club can move into a more stable era if they remain in the Premier League and the Sunderland boss is given another chance to bring in fresh faces.
Allardyce’s future has been a source of speculation over recent weeks, with only a year remaining on his contract and question marks over whether he’ll stay if Sunderland are relegated.
But Mannone – who has spent the last three years at Sunderland – believes the club can move into calmer waters if there is a happy ending to this season.
“Obviously the manager needs to stay,” said Mannone.
“If he’s here and we do stay up, yes, it’s going to be a good base for this club to finally get what it’s able to achieve.
“I’ve always said that this club has the potential to be a very good one.
“We have to start by being in a better part of the table, trying to achieve a higher position.
“But from there, you’ve seen what teams like Stoke and Swansea have done.
“They’ve done magnificently.
“Leicester are a great example and they’ve done it so quickly, but I think there’s the base and the right man in charge here to be in a better position.”
Allardyce became Sunderland’s sixth boss in the space of four years when he succeeded Dick Advocaat last October.
But for only the second time in the last four years, Sunderland will conclude the campaign without changing their manager during the home straight.
Bringing in Paolo Di Canio in 2013 and Advocaat in 2015 paid off for Sunderland in providing the catalyst for survival.
Neighbours and relegation rivals Newcastle tried to do likewise in sacking Steve McClaren and hiring Rafa Benitez, yet with the Magpies two points adrift of Sunderland, Mannone believes the Black Cats were fortunate that their previous changes in the dug-out ultimately paid off.
“I think it’s really difficult to change a manager in the last 10 games,” said the Italian shot-stopper.
“We’ve seen it work here in the past, but it is difficult.
“It’s more like you are desperate and you have to rush everything to get results.
“You don’t know the manager really well until you’ve had a few months with him.
“Now we know what our manager wants and we go onto the pitch knowing what to do and how to get results.
“It’s happened since he came.
“In the second half of the season, we’ve conceded much less and we’ve been in the games more.
“The preparation of the games has been different and has been good, compared to the past where we’ve been rushing into things and you don’t know how to get results.
“It’s a feeling of desperation rather than preparation.”