For Sunderland supporters, the close season has been one big mess. Going down had been unpleasant, all the more so because of the passive, passionless way we embraced relegation.
Losing the manager, David Moyes, was disruptive but perhaps no huge hardship; his negative outlook had made him an unpopular figure from far too early in his reign. But since? Jordan’s gone, Jermain’s going, Borini and Kone look for ways out and others may well follow, Ellis Short wants out too and still, five weeks on, no replacement for Moyes. Things could finally start to move this week, with possible new German owners and, just maybe, a quick and exciting (Klinsmann, or is that altogether too ambitious?) managerial appointment.
Here is one neutral assessment of where we are …
Sunderland’s Latest Ownership Rumours
After the tumult of last season, it is perhaps a serious understatement to suggest Sunderland have made a relatively quiet start to the pre-season.
While the club may have parted ways with David Moyes after relegation from the Premier League, they have yet to announce a replacement or make additions to a struggling playing squad.
One piece of news that did break was the breakdown of the takeover bid overseen by the Fulwell73 company, which worked on the Class Of ’92 film and is owned by Sunderland fans. This consortium, which would probably have left Tony Adams as manager, has now withdrawn, leaving the club without a clear direction [unless the German option prevails – Ed].
With this in mind, let’s consider where the club stands in its bid to hire a new manager and recruit for the Championship season:
Sunderland’s Managerial Rumours
When it comes to manager candidates, there are at least three principal targets apparently in the frame. The first of these is the combustible and former Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson, who masterminded the Foxes’ unlikely survival in 2015 and arguably laid the foundations for the club’s title triumph the following season.
Pearson’s abrasive nature makes him a significant risk for a club in turmoil, however, particularly when there are other candidates with excellent credentials. [And he appears to have ruled himself out – Ed]
Another candidate in Alan Pardew, who has been out of work since being sacked by Crystal Palace last December. While he has experience as both an EPL and a Championship manager, however, his legacy as a former Newcastle manager may [would! – Ed] count against him in the eyes of supporters.
This means the rumours linking Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder may be a little closer to the mark, particularly given his performance in leading the Blades to the Championship last year and the fact that Crystal Palace are also interested.
Put bluntly, unless you have some insider knowledge, it’s a mug’s game betting on who the new manager will be. You’d probably get better bang for your buck if you join Royal Vegas and play free slot machines than by betting on the identity of the next Sunderland boss. That said, Wilder would make for a bold and progressive choice for a club in need of change.
Sunderland’s Latest Transfer Rumours
In terms of playing staff, it stands to reason that there should be no viable recruitment targets given the lack of a manager.
In fact, it seems easier to determine who will leave in the summer, with former Liverpool striker Fabio Borini likely to head any exodus.
His agent Roberto De Fanti, formerly director of football at SAFC, has confirmed as much, with Scottish champions Celtic and Serie A side Lazio linked with the Italian. Last season’s top scorer and talisman Jermain Defoe is also poised to leave on a free transfer, with Premier League team Bournemouth his likely destination.
The Last Word
The current stagnation at Sunderland will cause fans concern, particularly with the playing squad in need of a considerable overhaul.
Therefore it’s imperative that Sunderland confirm their new boss as soon as possible as they look to make a selection that can power the club forward.