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Sunderland Need To Move Quickly But Realistically

The only thing that surprised me about Ricky Sbragia’s resignation was the timing of it, coming just 20 or 30 minutes after the final whistle. It was odd to watch Niall Quinn speaking about his manager not wanting to take up the option of another year as manager, whilst Sbragia stood there impassively.

Now it seems that the man who dared to question Roy Keane’s scattergun approach to transfer policy, correctly in my opinion, Ellis Short, is finalising his deal to buy out the board and complete his takeover at the Stadium of Light. A transfer kitty of £200 million will then apparently be made available to whoever takes the hot seat over which just makes me throw my hands up in exasperation.

60 years ago, Sunderland were known as the “Bank of England” due to their wealth but times have moved on and once again we’re faced with another club who seem to have no realisation of where they are in the scheme of things. The names being mentioned with the vacancy go from the ludicrous, Frank Rijkaard, to the obvious, Alan Curbishley, to the stupid, Steve Bruce being a Newcastle fan. The number one target, Martin Jol looks set for his dream job as Ajax manager; can Sunderland honestly think they can match Ajax in terms of appeal?

Now I’ve nothing against Sunderland wanting to better themselves but once again this is a club that the new owner assumes that just because it’s in the Premiership, everyone will be queuing up to join them. No offence to Sunderland fans but Short must be living in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks that they can attract the quality of players or a top quality manager he seems to think will want to join them. 

Despite the amounts of money washing around in the Premiership, to attract the top players you either need to be based in London, or an internationally known club such as Liverpool or Manchester United. Sunderland are neither at the present moment and Short needs to look at how tough Manchester City are finding it to attract the big name players they assumed would be desperate to join them. Regardless of what a lot of people think, the top players want to win trophies, with money being a distant second.

You can have all the money in the world, but as in Sunderland’s case, you have no real international presence or modern history, you will struggle to improve the player quality with signings from abroad. Look at Newcastle in their pomp or Leeds United when they were going well, which top quality international stars did they sign? None. Not one, because of geographical location and history of success.

They may have signed some great players, but not one of true top level international quality. Ginola was a swear word in France by the time he joined Newcastle after being blamed for the goal that cost France qualification to USA 94. Faustino Asprilla was a loose cannon, unable to fit in anywhere, a risk too far for many managers.

With Short trying to throw money at Sunderland, he may be very surprised of the actual lack of interest from a top quality manager to join him. With several massive clubs in Europe needing new managers, Juventus, Munich, Real Madrid, Ajax, PSG, Chelsea, Celtic and German champions Wolfsburg to name a few, he’ll realise that money isn’t everything in Premiership football.  Can Sunderland honestly compete with those sides, regardless of the money the may have?

Even in England, they only have to look up the road to Newcastle United to see the type of player having loads of money can give you. Inconsistent, infuriating and unwanted else where, the perception of the last few years in the UK was that if a player went to Newcastle, it was purely for the money as they had no chance of any silverware.

Short needs to be realistic at Sunderland and grow them steadily, otherwise he could end up with a frustrating summer and team full of mercenary players. Once again, a quick glance up the road will tell them all they need to know about that policy.

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  1. J Lenderyou

    May 27, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    “once again this is a club that the new owner assumes that just because it’s in the Premiership, everyone will be queuing up to join them.”

    Why are you automatically presuming this? If you believe the reports, our first target for the managerial role is Steve Bruce – hardly indicative of a club desperate for a big name statement.

    Why would we even need to compete with the likes of Bayern, Ajax or Juventus right now? People forget that David Moyes’ previous managerial experience was a reasonable job with Preston North End. If we have good investment pumping in, with a manager who knows which way his head is screwed on for a change, there’s no reason whatsoever to suggest that in the relative short term we can’t progress to where Aston Villa and Everton are now. And it’s not as if the Merseyside and Birmingham areas are great pulls either. If we reach that stage, after that, who knows.

  2. cath d

    May 27, 2009 at 8:23 am

    “if a player went to Newcastle, it was purely for the money as they had no chance of any silverware”

    You may as well write off anyone outside the big 4. I don’t think anyone would dispute the need to build slowly and sensibly, but that starts with having a manager who actually knows his job. There are plenty of managers with the sort of premiership track record (not talking about Curbishley) and scouting networks that Sunderland need to establishthemselves as a Villa or an Everton, who wouldn’t necessarily be on Real Madrid’s wishlist. It’s the manager who is key – Newcastle’s big mistake was ditching Allardyce – and look at small clubs who have been well-managed, your Wigans and your Boros. I can’t help thinking that if only Sunderland got this one basic ingredient right then our history and our fanbase, along with long-term backing from a fantastic chairman and his band of moneymen, would see us finally carving out our place.

  3. blumoon

    May 27, 2009 at 7:47 am

    im a city fan and i love the legend quinn . i really think that gordan stracken should take the sunderland job in his grasps

  4. Martin Robson

    May 26, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Mr Hedley – I am not hurt by the journalists comments whatsoever. The only true part is that top quality players do have geographical preferences, and are more likely to attain success at established successful teams, rather than teams with ambition. You are buying into the prejudices, believing the rhetoric, and capitulating to the predisposition of pompous bigots. Are you suggesting that your team can never challenge others because of their location? Are you suggesting that Niall Quinn can’t succeed with an alleged spending budget of $200,000,000??? He is a very young Chairman and he is learning all of the time. He has made mistakes but would be the first to admit – and learn from them. If he doesn’t inspire you by the way he promotes the club, and if his commitment to the cause and his loyalty to the club and the fans doesn’t give you hope and inspiration, maybe you should go see the skunks in the Championship next year. I can’t stand narrow-minded defeatists. Success takes time. Get it mate? People like you are forever discontent. The players were rubbish this season – but I wouldn’t swap Niall for anyone – period. He’ll get it right. One more thing. Manchester City have attracted the likes of Robinho but they need more time than half a season to get it going. With their loot they will be in the top four in the next five years. No miracles – it takes time!! Daniel Harrison – good shout.

  5. Chris Walker

    May 26, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    i thibnk man city’s attempts to sign kaka and berbatov proved that money isn’t everything and highlights the dillusion involved here.

  6. AtlantaPompey

    May 26, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Ask ManCity how having so much money worked out for them in January? Attracting players and managers is not just about money. It’s about the chance to win silverware. The big clubs can attract talent because they have a chance to win silverware. London-based clubs have an advantage because they live in one of the greatest cities in the world. Sunderland is not a big club, despite the number of seats they can fill.

  7. Alan Hedley

    May 26, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    I have supported my beloved Sunderland for 58 years first attending at Roker park at the age of five and whilst there are many points in the above comments with which I agree the article is not so far off the mark.

    Niall Quinn has been our saviour and our downfall. I have so much respect for the man that it hurts but he is Irish and does not know when it is best to keep his mouth shut because he wants to believe that what he says is going to happen so much that he does start to believe it. Keane was never the right choice for he job with his emotional track record, just as we said Keegan would be no Messiah for the same reason he was a quitter.

    Given a choice any top player will go to London or the North West for the opportunity of success on offer. Throwing money at the problem is not the answer, the nearly men and I once was special men, in football, are every where, all looking to keep their outrageous income flowing. They have no loyalty to us only themselves.

    Get a really sound manager and for him, if we have to, pay over the odds. Buy young talent, speed is a huge part of the game. buy a couple of tough and wise head defenders to give stability but follow Wenger’s approach and build from youth. we need goal scorers Jones has not shown the commitment, Cisse works if the ball is played to his feet but is not a holding striker. I would have kept him and bought someone capable of providing a service to him.

    If you can find a solid manager willing to build a team over five years we have everything to offer, the ground, expansion room but most of all fanatical support

    You may not like hearing what that article says but then the truth often hurts it is hard enough to find the players to buy, let alone getting them to come to the North East, which has become a laughing stock in terms of quality football.

  8. Daniel Harrison

    May 26, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    What a patronising piece of self indulgent drivel this article is. People continually look down their noses at Sunderland but things are about to change. Why and how did Chelsea get where they are? With respect, do they have the history or support of other top clubs or Sunderland or Newcastle? No way. The top and bottom of it is that Chelsea have bought their success and have, admittedly, been aided by geographical location. They are now established in the elite and are a well ran enterprise. Money talks and yes it can bring its own problems. However, with the right people in place,-i.e. management, which will happen, the money can be well spent on good players. A good manager mould then mould those players into a good team. Don`t you think that David Moyes wishes he had money at Everton? Aston Villa have done well under Martin O Neill. Until the last 30 years, the clubs have similar histories. Furthermore, over 40000 fans watched extremely poor football this season. The potential support is boundless and the stadium can easily be extended to 63000. Add in a terrific public figure head in Niall and I dare say that our job is one of the most attractive around. I look forward to making people like this journalist eat his words and open his eyes

  9. Martin Robson

    May 26, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Paul Bestall,

    You are a cynic and a fool!!! Maybe we should close the doors of all ambitious football clubs, and have a 7 team premiership consisting of London Clubs, Liverpool and Manchester United? Yes – that’s it. How dare Niall Quinn and Ellis Short even talk about challenging the supremacy of the “internationally knowns”. Maybe Sunderland should send their scouts to Hackney Marshes to watch the “Slug and Lettuce” reserve team for new recruits. Better still – maybe their turn-over would rocket north if they converted the Stadium of Light into a Football University to educate fans of “No hopers” that their geographical disadvantage will remain the route cause of their annual demise. Niall – listen to Paul will you. Down tools, give up the job and leave the cockneys, Liverpudlians and Mancunians completitionless.
    Personally I would like to thank Niall Quinn for finally giving the fans some hope. We’ve had some dross to contend with over the years, but whether a manager or players of quality come through the door or not, at least we have a ray of hope. Without exception Sunderland fans are the most passionate fans in the world – and WHEN Sunderland have quality players, and WHEN they win some silverware, there will be no better club to play for. Niall and Ellis – no offence Paul – have a wee bit more business savvy than yourself – take a look at their current accounts in comparison to yours – you’ll know what I mean. With good grounds, they anticipate just how big this club can become. So me old mate – take your oh so familiar prejudices and place them where the moon don’t shine. Good night x

  10. Xsniper

    May 26, 2009 at 11:14 am

    The Mans on the MOON ……
    Money buys every thing and every Body ! the best in the World will be knocking on Nials door for a job and a few Quid ?
    Watch them go next Season MONEY my friend is every thing in FOOTBALL !!!

  11. Sean Atkinson

    May 26, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Damian Peel, are you having a laugh?

  12. Damian peel

    May 26, 2009 at 10:53 am

    what the hell r u having a laugh of course we can attract a top class manager and top class players for that manager there a plenty of people in the world who know who we are it has nothing to do with where we are placed in the country its which league and where in the league you are in the league that will define whether a player will move, not to mention how much money they will want and you say about manchester city throwing money around but they have not invested wisely in the players they have bought

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