The Robson Report: in an SAFC world without Poyet, who’d be next?

Jeremy Robson: 'what did I do in a previous life to deserve this?'
Jeremy Robson: ‘what did I do in a previous life to deserve this?’

Still not the start of ‘Wembley and Bust’, the series in which our contributors will discuss what went so drastically wrong. But Jeremy Robson feels it in his bones that Gus is about to hop on a one-way bus trip. Who would come in to pick up the pieces, rebuild for a different task (gaining promotion as opposed to perpetual relegation avoidance) and please the fans? …

In last week’s Robson Report
– “What on earth happens next?” – I declared: “Never in living memory has any of our managers gone from being perceived so positively to become the villain of the piece in no more than a month.”

Gus Poyet clearly senses this feeling among our supporters, and it appears that he realises his particular number is up.

Rather than trying to assuage and reassure our club’s loyal followers that he is here for the long term, some of his comments since Wembley have further fuelled the fires of discontent, as he seeks to apportion blame elsewhere and avoid any personal responsibility for the catastrophic season which, with a handful of games left, he appears to have conceded will end in relegation.

If he doesn’t want to spend any more time with us, that’s fine. Toddle off to Windsor and leave us to it. We won’t be wasting our time on you.

Some of his rhetoric would be bizarre were it not for the fact that he seems hell bent on mysticising the bleeding obvious. There is something seriously wrong at Sunderland. We know that and we don’t need some Johnny come lately from the Home Counties to take off our imagined blinkers.

Our predicament is not the result of a Romany curse on the stadium due to Tom Cowie’s refusal to buy some clothes pegs any more than it can be attributed to poor feng-shui in the boardroom.

Even well before the De Fanti/Di Canio fiasco I recall some statement from the club which maintained that we would be a selling club, concentrating on the development of young players who would then be sold for a profit. The Academy has produced very little, either before or since and it’s time for an overhaul of scouting at grass roots and youth level.

Jordan Henderson left for a big fee and a significant profit was made when Simon Mignolet followed Henderson to Merseyside. If this philosophy is to be followed then you need to be damned well sure that their replacements are of at least equal ability if not higher.

Pete Sixsmith summarised this problem in his latest article so I will not repeat what he has already said so eloquently. Suffice to say that if this policy is indeed part of an implicit business model, then something has to fundamentally change in order for it to work at all. It isn’t working now.

Having said all that, we face some dark uncertain days ahead, at least until we know who is going to be the manager come August and we have some idea of who will stay and who will arrive. The shifting tone of Poyet’s public remarks indicate he will be gone, so who should the next man be? We can’t answer that question without considering what we are facing. A mass of departures due to the return of loanees, players out of contract also heading out the door as well as the line of contracted players demanding a transfer when the whistle goes in the final game at home to Swansea. There are several criteria.

We need a man who

· is capable of stopping the rot, putting a quick end to the downward slide of a relegated club

· commands respect and can get the players behind him at Championship level

· has an eye for players with real potential outside the top divisions and who can step up a grade quickly and effectively

· has been there before

· is respected in the game and has some integrity

There are to my mind three possible candidates, two of whom may be ruled out by events elsewhere between now and the end of the season.

Reading’s manager Nigel Adkins is one such man with a proven record at all levels. Treated harshly by Southampton after taking the helm in the 3rd tier, he led them to back to back promotions and was sacked for his efforts. He has just taken Reading to the play offs in the Championship. The coming weeks of this campaign could either rule him out or indicate that a new challenge elsewhere might be what he needs. For me, he fills all criteria. Against? Simply that he is an unknown quantity in the PL as he was sacked so soon by the Saints.

Chris Hughton, recently sacked by Norwich knows precisely how to stop the rot and restore some pride having done it most effectively at St James’ Park, and achieving promotion quickly for the Canaries. Hughton is a dignified and thoughtful man who would cast a very different shadow to some of his predecessors at the Stadium of Light. It’s questionable whether Hughton has what it takes to cut it in the Premier League but his experience at Norwich shouldn’t count against him. He may not be effective at that level but we need to stabilise the ship and that’s the priority. Against? He didn’t use the money available to him wisely or effectively. Ricky van Wolfswinkel was a poor buy who didn’t adapt to life in England, but his previous knowledge of working with Nathan Redmond has paid huge dividends.

The wildcard is Malky Mackay, another manager sacked in the PL this season should be another candidate, based on his achievement in getting Cardiff into the top flight for the first time in half a century. We may also work on the assumption that any man getting his P45 for falling out with the hilarious Vincent Tan has to be a good bloke. Mackay doesn’t have a record of firefighting as per Messrs Adkins and Hughton but must be worth consideration if Poyet goes. He brought in some good players for little money and built a side that didn’t look like genuine relegation candidates until after he had gone. Against? Like Hughton he spent big money poorly when he had it. The now departed Andreas Cornelius lost them £5m in less than six months.

* Do you agree with Jeremy on who the frontrunners may be? Are you not even convinced Poyet wants to go or has lost Ellis Short’s confidence? Have your say.

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9 thoughts on “The Robson Report: in an SAFC world without Poyet, who’d be next?”

  1. I’d be happy with any of the three suggestions. They all have a track record and are good people [ which is high on my list ]
    We need someone to come in and make Sunderland the sort of club that we all know it can be. We are, I regret to say, becoming a joke as a result of crass management at all levels in recent years.
    I have now accepted that we will be relegated, and I too believe Poyet will go [ no regrets on my part ]
    Malky is my first choice.

  2. Lennon would be a good shout and is definately no nonsense , it would be a coup to get him to be honest.In the same mould ,Mackay, Alladyce ( boo) or Mcllaren ( boo hiss) would do for me. Trouble is I can’t see anyone leaving a stable job to work for Short, especially in a ‘ head coach’ capacity , so that leaves Mackay and Houghton , though I fear Chris would be too easy going on our shower, decent manager though .Poyet may stay of course and get the go ahead to completely overhaul the club, someone needs to, why not someone who’s painfully aware of the job that needs doing?

  3. Good call CSB. Lennon also has experience of playing in England which is also important. I can see him as a real contender. Great shout!

  4. Neil Lennon, anyone. Celtic have been a selling club for decades now, yet still punch above their weight in Europe, consistently and persistently finding bargain players who they then sell on to the premier league.

    Their scouting system is so far more advanced than ours, their academy produces and Lennon has them playing a style of football that is both effective and attractive. Yes I know it only the Scottish PL but their European performances show that the manager can motivate and they still win domestic competitions and do what is required to stay top. That says a lot about the attitude and mentality of their squad and the man who manages them.

  5. Hughton got both Newcastle and Norwich promoted at the first attempt. Adkins got Southampton promoted twice in successive seasons and they are now established in the PL with many of the same players he started with. He now has Reading in the play offs. Prior to that he did wonders for Scunthorpe.

    Maybe you don’t like my suggestions so name some names rather then telling us a manager needs to do this and that, blaj blah blah?. Any fool can do that.

  6. None of the above. The next manager will be buying lots pf players just to make an eleven, so we need a cast iron proven track record.

    The elephant in the room has been Tony Pulis for a long while now!!!! I did not want him as manager prior to Poyet , but wonder if I was wrong now.

    Why are you looking at out of work (or soon to be) managers? Why can we not just go and buy one, same as we would with players. Other clubs do. I think we may need not only a top head coach but also another two or three top coaches to push the development squad and academy players to the limit, If those kids haven’t got it, then get rid of them quickly, there are plenty of other kids biting for a chance.

    J. Smith

  7. Your suggested candidates are far too nice.

    If we retain some of the underachievers for next season we need someone like Peter Reid.

    Forget the hair-dryer and consider the flame-thrower approach with Bobby Saxton throwing in grenades from the side.

    Welcome to Championship football.

    Where’s the next Kevin ball and Alex Rae?

    And get Alfred back!!!!!!

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