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Sbragia QUITS – Breaking News

Ricky Sbragia has left his post as manager of Sunderland.

Ricky Sbragia has left his post as manager of Sunderland.

It has been announced after Sunderland’s home defeat to Chelsea, Ricky Sbragia has stepped down -despite avoiding relegation.

Sbragia initially took over at the Stadium Of Light in December as caretaker manager in the wake of Roy Keane’s departure. Following a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United, Sbragia went on to take seven points from the next three games – sticking four goals past West Brom and Hull respectively. After pressure from his players and fans alike Sbragia was appointed manager of Sunderland on an 18 month contract. Sunderland were promptly beaten 3-0 by Everton in his first game as manager.

Since his full time appointment, Sunderland have mustered a poor 14 points from 19 games – which is what led the club to fighting for their lives on the final day. I always felt that Sbragia was reluctant to take the job and appeared to have been pressured into it. During his caretaker spell he was always very coy about taking the job on full time and this was demonstrated in his post-match interiew after the victory at Hull. While providing his post-match reaction for British televeision one of his players is clearly heard shouting: ‘give him the job’ – the Scot not only looked embarrassed, he looked uneasy. However, that could merely be my interpretation of events.

Todays announcement following the match came as no real surprise to me, and one assumes that the board if not the players were fully aware this was to be the former defender’s last game at the helm. Rumours of a full-take over by American investor Ellis Short have been rife over the last 24 hours and that the Short wanted his own man in charge. With that in mind a thought creeps in that maybe Sbragia didn’t jump, he was pushed –  a day before his 53rd birthday.

The next seven days could big ones on Wierside as we await clarification as to how accurate the rumours of Short’s buyout of the club are. Once we have an idea of the shape of things at boardroom level at the club we might be able to profile the kind of man likley to take up reigns at the Stadium Of Light. That being said, there might be a new man in charge within the next few days anyhow.

Martin Jol and Steve Mclaren are already being linked to the Black Cats job but you would feel that Mclaren would be a somewhat unpopular choice. I have a strange feeling in my stomach (hopefully it isn’t something I have eaten!) that if the buyout rumours are true, even Niall Quinn may be a candidate for the job – particularly if Short wants someone he knows and trusts in charge.

As I update this post, Sbragia has since been quoted as saying the following:

“I spoke with chairman Niall Quinn this week and I think we need a bigger name to carry the club further. I’ve done everything I came to, I’ve kept the club in the Premier League. I would like to have done it better but I’m pleased we stayed up.”

 The club have also released their own statement in the last hour, to read it please click here:

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  1. Sean Atkinson

    May 26, 2009 at 7:53 am


    The NCAA and professional football are two completely different things.

    For one, the NCAA sports feature amateur athletes and the primary purpose of the institutions they attend is to educate, not to make money. Yes, money is a big part of it but, do you genuinely think schools could just break away and make their own league completely separate from the NCAA for the sole purpose of making money? Clubs in the English Premier League and around Europe can because they are businesses not institutions of higher learning.

    As for Major League Baseball, it is comprised of a whole 30 teams breaking away from the MLB would not make much sense for most because it is not as if they could create a better alternative. In European football however, top clubs from England, Italy, Spain, Holland, Scotland, Portugal, etc. could easily break away, and make their own league that would have greater appeal to a worldwide audience than their domestic leagues and the Champions League.

  2. eplnfl

    May 25, 2009 at 11:43 am

    True and not Sean. UEFA can make more money from a general pool of money by pooling the TV rights to the CL and the Euro Cup or whatever they will call it now to all team who make those events. That equals things out a lot.

    In NCAA sports, (American colleges) if you make a post season tournament the money is split among all conference teams. In MLB post season money is still split among all the players in the league, not much goes to the worst teams however. Where is the players union trying to make sure salary for involved is good.

    Yes, making the Champions League is a big advantage but both on the UEFA level and EPL level more equality can be enforced.

  3. Sean Atkinson

    May 25, 2009 at 9:04 am


    Contrary to popular belief, it is not really the EPL’s fault that the big four have cemented their place at the top of the table for years now.

    Martin Samuel wrote a very interesting article a couple of weeks ago (, and correctly pointed out that, if you look beyond the big four, clubs still move up and down throughout the table like they always have in England. The difference in the gulf in class between the big four and everyone else is the Champions League money. The EPL has absolutely no control over how UEFA distributes its money so, if you want to point a figure, point it at UEFA or the big four.

    If UEFA tried to distribute its money among leagues more evenly, the big four would never stand for it and, would probably break away to make a league of their own with the other big sides in Europe, but, can you blame them? At the end of the day, one has to remember that these clubs are not charitable organizations, they are businesses, and businesses are in the business of making money.

  4. eplnfl

    May 24, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Maybe Sbragia never was going to stay on but in the event that he left because he knows that survival is no cause for celebration(Phil Brown) I say well done. Fans should no longer accept finishing 15th, 16th, or 17th as some sort of achievement.

    The Prem will be the world class league instead of the home of 4 of the best 8 clubs in the world when staying up means little and winning means everything. A famous American football coach said it best winning is the only thing! Memo to EPL! Starts things off by finding a way for the smaller clubs to achieve. You have a good number of NFL owners in the EPL take some advice from them or be prepared to lose fan interest.

  5. Christopher Walker

    May 24, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    I agree Sean, Ricky is a lovely man but he is not cut out to be a manager – in my humble opinion.

  6. Sean Atkinson

    May 24, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Can’t say that I’m surprised. He strikes me as the classic number two that cannot step up to the role of a number one. He should be given credit however for keeping them up.

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