It is the curse of the printed media that the time between deadline and ink meeting page could negate the content of a newspaper.
However, I shall bravely disregard this occupational hazard and ask the question: when will Sunderland appoint a new manager?
Even if the club shows no concern for the welfare of this column and wheels out the new bloke five minutes after the presses begin to roll (and we might not be their foremost consideration), another question remains.
Why so long?
The club has had a minimum of three weeks to forage. I say a minimum because David Moyes’ resignation did not exactly knock everyone bandy with its element of surprise.
They don’t want to rush. Clearly. But as the appointment will be little more than an informed punt and I have yet to meet anyone with a strong preference (other than who they DON’T want), they could almost raffle the position. At least it would be quick.
Holidays have been taken by club officials and potential targets alike. But this should not have drawn out proceedings to this extent.
These days, you can even send telegrams from some foreign countries.
Touted candidates include every name within reason and quite a few without. Some stories on the subject have attained the same level of plausibility as homeopathy. Realistic contenders fall into three categories.
1) Not currently managing and gathering dust.
2) Employed by smaller clubs and therefore relatively easy to prise away.
3) Complete novices.
It’s difficult to see why anyone in those categories has not been installed before now. The world knows the financial situation at Sunderland; so those demanding silly salaries or silly compensation should be immediately ignored. Time saved.
Time is even more valuable when the new season is only 53 days away.
Reportedly, Sunderland approached Derek McInnes. But his current employers, Aberdeen, want £1million compensation; approximately what it takes Jack Rodwell four months to “earn.”
If that is correct then Aberdeen, who presumably want McInnes to either stay or leave as soon as possible, have hardly been unreasonable.
If Sunderland don’t think the man is worth £1m compo then why would they want him at all? If indeed they do.
The longer the process takes the more damage is done. This was proved horribly and spectacularly by the procrastination of various parties last summer.
Another question involves last week’s retained list (fans might be heartened to remember that “retained” just means “under contract” and not necessarily staying). Who decided it?
Was it a non-football person? Did the leavers themselves decline new contracts?
In the specific cases of John O’Shea and Seb Larsson, we would be particularly interested to know. Without anyone currently to assist, Paul Bracewell is still assistant manager. How much input if any did this touchline Beau Brummell have?
Sunderland are not the only managerless club and I don’t suggest that the board are whiling away the close-season playing cribbage and waiting for the phone to ring.
Nor does anyone expect every nuance of discussion to be publicised. But we are told virtually nothing and this information deficit is likely to continue even after the eventual appointment.
That’s what happens at Sunderland (for example we still don’t know how much the FA paid the club for Sam Allardyce: where’s the harm in telling us?).
As ever, the supporters deserve better; explanations at minimum.
For supporters is what they are; only the vacuous could think of them as “customers” such as at Debenhams or Müller’s the Bakers.
SAFC wants supporters to continue supplying a large fiscal and emotional investment, without offering much of a hint as to what they can expect in return.
This can be addressed. Preferably soon.