Apologies for typos that appeared in an earlier version: an unedited draft somehow managed to replace the finished article and this remained in place, with spelling mistakes, until spotted …
No one knows, or no one is saying, when the FA’s three wise men will put us out of our misery, and end the damaging disruption to Sunderland’s pre-season preparations, and announce their decision on England’s new manager.
Perhaps we have no real right to place our own concerns above those of England, much as some of have felt detached from the national team for years.
But we are fully entitled to feel troubled and angered by the drawn-out selection process and the effect it is inevitably having on recruitment and staff (including team) morale, not to mention the nervous systems of supporters.
Sunderland, effectively, are currently managerless.
Yes, Sam Allardyce will be acting professionally, doing his job as best he can while awaiting a decision.
But it does not take a genius to work out the effect this limbo will be having.
Players take account of who is in charge of teams that want to sign them, or tie them to longer contracts if already there. Owners want to know that money spent on their behalf by one manager is money his possible successor would also have wished to spend. Systems of play may change altogether if Allardyce leaves.
There is, therefore, a strong case for bringing the matter to a head. Is is strong enough?
My choice, and the club’s choice, would be for Allardyce to remain at Sunderland and continue the excellent start he made last season. No manager since Peter Reid (at least for most of his first five seasons) has given us as much genuine hope of stability; that’s not a word everyone likes but what I have in mind is not the stability of being in the bottom six every season.
No one, as I have said, should blame Big Sam for pursuing a job he has always – and openly – coveted.
We can question the wisdom of his ambition but not its sincerity. But the current dithering is so harmful to the interests of the club that the owner, Ellis Short, might be well advised to knock the uncertainty on the head, issue a Stay or Leave ultimatum to his manager and prepare the ground, before it is dangerously late, for a replacement to get started and sharpish.
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