Sunderland: Which top dog, will take over the Black Cats?


Ah Sunderland, eternally destined to struggle it seems. After being beaten by the likes of Bournemouth, Norwich, Leicester, Manchester United and Tottenham – Dick Advocaat has thrown in the towel. This Sunderland Echo article has Dick citing the reasons; “the struggle against relegation isn’t my cup of tea” and “our squad was simply not good enough”.


Fair points, if you look at the fact he was practically begged by the Sunderland fans to sign the contract extension earlier this year & their subsequent results. He kept them up last year, and now the merry-go-round moves on – to find the next manager to steer the club away from the black hole they’ve dug themselves so far.

There have been a number of managers with Premier League experience linked, and we’re going to take a look at a few and see what they could offer the Black Cats. I’ll also be scoring them out of ten, for how effective I feel they’ll be with the Sunderland squad – not their likelihood at being hired.

David Moyes

The return of the ‘Chosen One’ to the Premier League is a real possibility for Sunderland fans. After a steady start in La Liga with Real Sociedad ending with a 12th place finish, things haven’t started too well for the Scotsman and they currently sit two places above the relegation places, with only one win on the board in 7 games. A return to England might be a prudent move for Moyes, in order to avoid the risk of getting the chop from two consecutive jobs – a “jump before you’re pushed” move if you will.

Experienced with squads perhaps a little older than you should have, alongside knowing what is required to survive in the Premier League, Moyes could aid this Sunderland squad greatly. A lot of the Sunderland players are 25+ years old and for many this season might be their last in the top flight. Moyes could bring what he brought to Preston and Everton to get the best a lot of these players before taking the money that is always readily available at Sunderland and really making the team his own – should they survive.

I give David Moyes, a 7 out of 10.

Sam Allardyce

Big Sam Allardyce, is perhaps the best candidate for the Sunderland should he want to give up his cushy media appearance to really enter the furnace of the bottom of the table once again. With Bolton, Newcastle, West Ham and Blackburn all sitting comfortably around the middle of the Premier League table during his stewardship – Allardyce can be forgiven for his style of play in my eyes – as he always delivers results given the reins.

With a bit of a kick up the backside in true ‘Big Sam’ style, the squad already has the strong spine that Allardyce looks for in Pantilimon, Kaboul, Cattermole, Lens and Steven Fletcher. Add into that, the reliable talents of Defoe and Larsson finishing with the more maverick Johnson and M’Vila – the Sunderland first team is actually not that bad. Given they now have 30 games left, if they’re to reach the mythical ’40 point safety’ mark, they’ll require an average of just over 2 points a game. In this infographic by Paddy Power of all places, it shows he has improved the points-per-game average of five out the eight clubs he’s managed during his career.

I give Sam Allardyce an 9 out of 10.

Nigel Pearson

A possibly controversial appointment, giving the seemingly acrimonious departure from Leicester after his relationship with the Leicester City board dissolved amid the craziness of his and his son’s on & off field antics. His results are a hit & miss, with the highs of promotion and Premier League survival with Leicester, to short and pretty average spells at Hull and Southampton.

Taking a look at his Leicester City reign, his ability to create a sturdy defence perhaps shouldn’t be overlooked, with both Robert Hugh and Wes Morgan the highest rated players by last year. He’s no stranger to having an older squad this time around but that’s not to say he won’t look into the Sunderland developmental squads and bring forth some youth to invigorate the Sunderland 1st team squad. His handling of Mahrez, Albrighton, Schlupp brought the best out of the players in their successful survival attempt last year, with that memorable run to ensure Leicester lived to fight this season. Maybe that’s what Sunderland need most, someone who has the ability to inspire what has been a largely insipid squad so far.

I give Nigel Pearson 5 out of 10.

Sean Dyche

Oh look! Another manager who has experience in building a sturdy defence. Burnley’s defence once again rise to the top in the rankings. Currently still with Burnley, sitting in 6th place with 4 wins out of the last 6 games – it’s hard to tell if Sean would want to give up what is a largely in-form squad for the horrors of Premier League relegation fight.

Once thing Sunderland would look forward to, is Sean Dyche’s implementation of a sturdy, hard working system that even if it doesn’t succeed, will always give 100%. That’s one thing Sunderland fans have been crying out for this season as too many of their losses have been flaccid concessions to their opponents as soon as things have got too hard. Given that Sean Dyche nurtured Danny Ings, could he possibly revive Steven Fletcher & Jermaine Defoe in their twilight years? One thing I’m sure Sean Dyche would love, is Sebastian Larsson, a player who was once in the mould of Ashley Barnes – a potential centre of everything good from set pieces.

I give Sean Dyche a 6 out of 10.

Those mentioned above are the current bookies favourites, but there are honourable mentions for Paul Lambert (4/10), Roberto De Matteo (3/10) and even Michael Laudrup (2/10). Whoever comes into Sunderland Football Club should be under no illusions, it will be a long, hard slog to achieve safety this season. With so many improved squads, Sunderland have shot themselves in the foot by not doing the same, to the extent the other teams have. It won’t be a career-killer if Sunderland don’t make it, but if they do survive – it’ll be a real achievement to put on any managerial CV.


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