Sunderland’s managerial appointment must be part of long-term strategy, says former Black Cats star Alex Rae

Alex Rae.
Alex Rae.
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Sunderland’s next appointment must be part of a long-term strategy, according to their former midfielder Alex Rae.

And the Scot believes the Black Cats need a manager who can not only rebuild the squad from the bottom up, but who will also reconnect the loyal fanbase with their club.

It’s been almost two weeks since Simon Grayson was sacked, with chief executive Martin Bain sifting through a shortlist of candidates, knowing he must get this appointment spot on to appease disillusioned supporters, especially with Sunderland rock-bottom of the Championship.

“There is an apathy about the place,” said the Glaswegian, who played for Sunderland between 1996 and 2001.

“You see it in the stands.

“The fans at Sunderland are outstanding but the stadium is half empty now.

“There is a resignation about the situation and with this appointment the board, Martin (Bain), the owner have the chance to change that.

“What is needed now is a strategy.

“Not an idea that they bring a manager in and he’s gone within a few games.

“They need a mid to long-term strategy.

“They need to show some vision. That’s what’s needed at the club.

“The reason I say that is because chopping and changing has not worked.”

While Grayson’s appointment was seen as a step in the right direction at the time, Rae admits he was never sure it was the right fit.

This time, though, the decision of Bain and Ellis Short, which seems to be imminent, is crucial.

“They need a wee spark,” said Rae.

“The fans are loyal down there. They do not deserve what they have been put through in recent times.

“No one can doubt their loyalty – they were relegated and still got crowds of 40,000.

“Not many could get close to that.

“Sunderland need a manager to come in and rebuild from the bottom up.

“The club has some big characters in the dressing room – they need someone to grasp that and get those players performing.

“Key is getting the support back on track.

“A person who is familiar with the support would be a positive but not essential.

“Things are too fragmented. The crowd and club need uniting.”

Looking at the second tier table, you’d think Sunderland was a lost cause – not so, says Rae.

He’s seen enough to suggest a resurgence under a strong manager, who knows the club, is not totally out of the question.

He said: “They showed against Boro that there was some fight in there. They do have a decent squad.

“I know fans may not think that now, but I think a manager could get something out of them.”