The Sunderland managerial position – where do the Black Cats go from here?

Simon Grayson became the latest in a long line of highly-regarded managers to badly flop in charge of Sunderland and he was sacked this week.

He follows in the footsteps of David Moyes, Martin O’Neill, Gus Poyet and Paolo Di Canio – all managers that arrived with excellent reputations and left with those reputations in tatters. The Black Cats are now searching for their eighth manager in just five years and of that group only Sam Allardyce left with his standing intact. It did not last long for Big Sam as he was sacked by England shortly, but at least he was not removed from his position at the Stadium of Light. However, the rest all bit the bullet as a result of their team’s shocking form, so it begs the question: is the Sunderland manager position cursed?

“I can’t think of too many people in football at this moment who could do a better job than I am,” said Grayson this week after a 3-3 draw with the league’s bottom club, Bolton, left Sunderland in the relegation zone, with just ten points from 15 games. The following day he was fired and coaches Robbie Stockdale and Billy McKinlay have been left in temporary charge for their upcoming North-East derby against Middlesbrough, with a new appointment expected to be announced next week.

The odds on them winning that derby are not good. Research Betonline when wagering on game and you will see that Boro are heavy, odds-on favourites, while Sunderland are huge outsiders. Realistically, the new manager is likely to be taking over a club with ten points from 16 games.

The favourite to be awarded the job is former Boro boss Aitor Karanka, who took Middlesbrough up to the Premiership in 2015/16 only to be relegated straight away. Boro are currently faring a lot better than Sunderland in the Championship table and that is thanks to far more prudent financial management from their directors. Karanka might not fancy walking into a club that saw its squad utterly decimated this summer and does not look like challenging for the Championship for some while.

Next up in the betting for next permanent Sunderland manager is club legend Peter Reid, but he has not managed for a long time. He is followed another club hero in Kevin Phillips, but he is inexperienced, and then Nigel Pearson is 10/1.

It is telling that the Black Cats are not being linked with a superior calibre of manager and may be forced to compromise and take a punt on someone like Reid or Phillips. Few established managers would want the job. Di Canio was sacked after a player revolt because he questioned their hedonistic lifestyles.

Replacement Poyet provided this choice quote: “There’s something wrong and I need to find it before I go too. There’s something inside Sunderland, something at its very core. It’s hard to explain but there’s a way of life, something deep down, that makes it difficult to fulfill its potential. If I knew what it was I’d say but it’s there and it needs to be changed at the root.” Even Allardyce admitted that rescuing Sunderland from relegation was “the hardest thing I have ever done” in football.

There is chaos behind the scenes, players have been involved in several tabloid scandals and something seems rotten in the state of Sunderland. Grayson did a fantastic job at Leeds last season, but lasted just four months on Wearside. Sunderland have still not won at home this year – not this season, but this calendar year – and have recorded just one win in 15 Championship matches. It would take a heroic effort to galvanise this group of players, but who wants to take it?

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