So who do we think is fit to lead a team bearing the handsome red and white stripes on which someone clearly based his or her design when coming up with a colour scheme – spotted the other day – for the central bagni in the Italian resort of Santa Margherita, right next to Portofino?
I had a go at this question in my latest piece for ESPN, which you can see at http://www.espnfc.com/club/sunderland/366/blog/post/2477242/dyche-linked-with-sunderland
Let’s look at the supposed targets:
* Sean Dyche is favourite to take the job Dick Advocaat declined to keep after saving the club from a calamitous relegation. But only the favourite according to the bookies …
Online mutterings among the supporters suggest such an appointment would receive an unenthusiastic response. Dyche undoubtedly earned respect for taking Burnley to the Premier on a feeble budget. He impressed many in football during a difficult season and there was genuine sympathy, if not from Sunderland fans more concerned with their own club’s plight, that he was unable to keep them up.
But that honourable failure leaves Dyche with the inescapable status of an unproven quantity in the top flight. Is the hope that he might show his true worth at a bigger club, with greater resources, really the height of Sunderland’s ambition?
* Philip Cocu, capped 101 times as a midfielder by the Netherlands and Advocaat’s successor as a manager of PSV Eindhoven
He has just led Eindhoven to a first league title in seven years. It would take an extraordinarily generous deal, and the promise of serious investment to enable Sunderland to realise the potential a huge fan base suggests, to engage his interest. But that is the sort of appointment that would excite supporters, who feel they are owed recompense for season after season of turgid, relegation-standard football and — until Advocaat’s brief appearance — a succession of unsuitable managers.
Others who have been mentioned:
* Viktor Skrypnyk, the Ukrainian now in charge of Werder Bremen,
* Armin Veh, formerly with Stuttgart.
* The former Spurs and Fulham boss Martin Jol is available, having been out of work since a disastrous run of defeats, after two solid midfield seasons, cost him his Fulham job in December 2013.
* Sam Allardyce
Allardyce and his style of play will always divide supporters and there are doubts about his willingness to accept the sporting director/head coach arrangement to which ower Ellis Short is clearly attached.
But I presented the names with my usual health warning, that supporters should know from experience that nearly all speculation about transfers and management changes should be taken with a lorryload of salt.
I have never forgotten the words of an impeccably placed individual who explained to me how wrong most close-season transfer gossip had been after Roy Keane led Sunderland back to the Premier in 2007. Many of the players described in the media as targets had never even been considered; several others had been courted without reporters hearing about it.
My conclusion, therefore, is that the identity of the new boss may surprise us all, Paddy Power included. Ellis Short has had few more important decisions to ponder since taking a controlling interest in the club in 2008.
* See also: Salut! Sunderland writers review the 2014-2015 season:
AlanJ (reader): ‘excellent, thoughtful and thought-provoking articles. They should be compulsory reading for Ellis Short and our new Head Coach/Manager’