No sooner had we said the bookies may have to think again about Sunderland as relegation fodder than we begin to see signs that the odds might soon start lengthening. One win is not enough to get pulses racing too fast but there’s no denying the massive fillip that would result if we could add a win against Birmingham City to Chris Coleman’s highly encouraging start as manager. Daniel Webb, who knows about such matters, analyses the prospects …
After claims that the club was “rotten to the core”, Sunderland were all of the best bookmakers’ favourites for a second relegation in a row – up until recently.
However, a lot of us got our hopes up when Chris Coleman was appointed manager. After all, who better to take charge of a struggling team than the man who led Wales – WALES! – to the semi-finals of Euro 2016? If anyone can help us, it’s Coleman, right?
Yet while our results have improved, we’re not out of the woods yet. So can the Welshman actually pull us out of trouble, or are we just fooling ourselves?
Reasons Coleman could fail
After David Moyes failed to help Sunderland avoid the drop and the dismal, short-lived reign of Simon Grayson at the Stadium of Light, some blamed the managers – but I don’t think that’s right.
Rumours have been rife about a lack of commitment and team spirit ever since Paolo Di Canio was manager.
Big Sam Allardyce was arguably the exception to the rule in overcoming that issue yet even he went as far as to say that keeping Sunderland in the Premier League was the hardest thing he’d ever done.
The fact that Allardyce didn’t want to keep the job also says a lot about the club [if it is true that lack of resources might have driven him away even if the England job, which he’d always coveted, hadn’t come up – Ed].
Looking at Coleman’s record, cynics could suggest he won’t be any different to Moyes or Grayson. Back in 2009/10, he was sacked by Coventry following their lowest league finish in 45 years. His achievement with Wales was arguably a fluke and the failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup suggests this may indeed have been the case.
Signs Coleman can rescue Sunderland
Having taken Wales to their first major tournament since 1958, Coleman has achieved the seemingly impossible – and that wasn’t a fluke! Coleman was able to foster not just great team spirit, but also proved himself a brilliant tactician. Working with a limited budget is not a problem as Coleman knows how to get the best out of the team he has.
However, as we said in another recent post, the key to Allardyce’s success at Sunderland hinged on a great January transfer window – and the same is probably true for Coleman. If he can secure the services of Liverpool goalkeeper Danny Ward on loan, then we’re definitely in with a shout.
Unrest in the dressing room ultimately contributed to bringing Moyes and Grayson’s tenures to a grinding halt. The reason Allardyce succeeded where others failed was that he was able to get inside players’ heads and give them the confidence they need to win and survive.
Robbie Savage recently said the Wales players would “walk through brick walls” for Coleman, so that’s a great sign. The Welshman has already taken us out of the relegation zone and he’s done that by showing his players who’s boss.
It’s obvious from his record, and from the changes he’s bringing about at Sunderland, that man management is one of his key strengths. There’s every reason to believe that Coleman is the man to help the team bounce back.