Anybody know any managers?

Matthew Keeling takes a look at the managerial situation at Sunderland AFC

Does anyone know any football managers?

102 days on from the departure of Michael Beale, Sunderland remain without a first-team head coach. Mike Dodds and Michael Proctor oversaw a pretty calamitous end to the 2023/24 season which saw Sunderland finish just six points clear of the relegation zone, and did absolutely nothing to put themselves in the frame for the job permanently.

Dodds and Proctor you’d think retain a coaching position, first team or otherwise but to be honest this shouldn’t be a given.

The right manager should be allowed to bring a team with him – they often come as a package or at least a pair, and forcing a hire to work with existing coaches is surely a stumbling block.

Highly rated or not, Mike Dodds isn’t owed a coaching career by Sunderland AFC, and he can’t get in the way of the club bringing in the right head coach. I’m not saying it will – hopefully the powers that be don’t let that happen.

Names have been thrown around, gone away and then come back around. Yesterday’s hilarious 15-minute spell of having Raphael Wicky in charge was the latest rumour, while one that won’t go away is Will Still.

Still would want to bring his own team with him, his brother being the assistant, and is believed to be in demand. Norwich, who have since appointed a manager and RC Lens, who haven’t, have all been credited with an interest. The latest development seems to involve analysing the back of his head to see if it really is him at Washington Retail Park. Things are, I fear, getting a little desperate.

I did truly believe that we’d have someone in place by now. It is a long time to go without a manager. To be really honest I’d have had someone in before the end of last season – it was going nowhere and could have been used as a pretty nice bedding in period for the new boss.

If Sunderland have waited until now to appoint someone in a job, or that has just become available, then fair play I guess. If they have left it until now to appoint Paul Heckingbottom though, a man who has been out of work since the beginning of December, then that’s not really good enough. It also indicates that he wouldn’t be first choice – Michael Beale was hired while Heckingbottom was available.

Personally I quite like Liam Rosenior. Fairly unimaginative I know, but he seemed to do a decent job at Hull and already knows the league. He seems a likeable guy too, maybe he should have done better at Hull, maybe not but I’d be leaning towards him if I had to pick.

I don’t know a lot about Will Still, and if he is the number one choice then it is dragging a bit. Managers, being managers, will be linked with other clubs – I know that.

An appointment soon is important, for me. It is June tomorrow, and as mad as it is pre-season won’t be too far away. It’s an interesting situation, as those in charge will know they have to get this one right.

There is little room for error now for Speakman et al, with lots of us already having ran out of patience with their approach and ‘model’. Not everyone though, there is still some goodwill kicking around. Maybe that is the delay, because the right manager in charge is vital. There’s also the small matter of adding depth and experience to the squad, which I’m sure will come in good time.

So yes, we need a manager. Or else Mike Dodds and Michael Proctor will be taking interim charge while a replacement for Mike Dodds and Michael Proctor is found.