Poyet or bust, Sunderland’s only option?

October 7, 2013 in Premier League by Ben Said Scott

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From living in London and not having too many friends who are fans of Sunderland, my understanding of how we as a club are seen is very different. Along with the likes of Norwich or West Bromwich Albion, we are perceived as perennial strugglers, a smaller club than our neighbours Newcastle. Whether or not this is true is of course from my perspective highly debatable but regardless it is in this context that Sunderland football club has to go fishing for a new manager.

The speculation on who will be the new manager has churned up the same familiar faces that are perennially linked with all lower Premier League/top of the Championship jobs. For example Steve McLaren a heavy favourite a few weeks ago for the job at the Stadium of Light has now been appointed as Derby County manager following Nigel Clough’s sacking. Because we are operating in this market the other names linked unfortunately don’t really inspire any more confidence than McLaren’s either. Tony Pulis, Alex McLeish and probably Alan Curbishley (don’t remember a job where he wasn’t the bookies early frontrunner) have all been linked but really none of those would take us further as a club. Keep us up? Maybe. Set up a system of play that will guarantee long term success? Not in any way.

Robert Di Matteo was also heavily linked early on, and his name was perhaps the only one that was above the level of the other names. He is a manager who led Chelsea to a Champions League win and did well at both West Brom and MK Dons in previous spells. However he was quick to shy away from the role. He was my personal choice but perhaps was too far out of our perceived reach. My other favourites, Rene Meulensteen and Marcelo Bielsa, were also too far out of reach. So much so that neither was ever included in any serious predictions despite both being free agents.

The lack of quality available to us has led to Kevin �Mr. Sunderland’ Ball being moved up from reserve/youth team coach to first team manager. While performances under him have been greatly improved his substitutions, particularly those during the Manchester United game, show that he is not yet experienced to take over a club when it is in such dire straits.

And so we are left with the name of Gus Poyet. A name firmly lodged in the lower Prem/higher Championship group of coaches and managers who have been linked. While I am not delighted with the choice to appoint him our options are somewhat limited and Poyet may have potential. The job he did at Brighton was an average one. With the funds he had available he was able to bring in some quality and they played good football. However they flagged towards the end of the season and there were rumours of dressing room unrest, particularly during the play-off tie during Crystal Palace and Poyet was eventually forced out in the summer amidst somewhat unclear and acrimonious circumstances. However with Sunderland Poyet has some really good players to work with if he can put together a team like he did early on in his Brighton reign he could do well for us.

Unfortunately the perception of Sunderland football club and our recent history as a yo-yo club has left us with a lack of real quality options available. Poyet then, though not my first choice, might be the best choice available to us. Only time will tell.