The three rules of Mackem Mountaineering - Chris Coleman's presser suggests knows all about them


The meaning behind the words. What can we take from Chris Coleman's first press conference as Sunderland boss?

Out he strode, accompanied by an air of confidence and a rather relieved looking Chief Executive in Martin Bain. Chris Coleman has landed and he seems to be getting to grips with his new club as fast as humanly possible.

Bain opened the conference, freely admitting that Coleman was his first choice and that no one else was offered the job. He seemed to be attempting a small pep talk-come-warm-up for Coleman in front of the assembled crowd of journalists. Not that Sunderland's new manager appeared to need one.


Coleman exuded a quiet confidence and self determination not seen coming from a man in the Sunderland hot seat for a long time.

His frank statement regarding his hugely successful time managing the Welsh national team was surely to give a brief explanation of how he wound up as Black Cats boss and to put any further questions relating to his former employment to bed.

He admitted that it didn't take him long to take the job, 24 hours was the time scale mooted, Coleman stateed he is, 'impressed and delighted.' to be here.

It is a theme running throughout his interview that he is eager to be here and thankful for the opportunity. He is aware of how big a club Sunderland is and is also equally familiar with how formidable it could become. Referencing the 47,000 fans he hopes to pack the Stadium of Light with and acknowledging the loyalty and passion displayed by those fans over the last 6 years of mismanagement.

Most importantly, Coleman sees the potential of a club with facilities, fans and the tarnished reputation of Sunderland. Although, if that reputation was purely based on the club's performance over the last six years, it wouldn't seem quite as alluring. But thankfully most can still remember the bygone times of the Stadium of Light in full swing, a fortress and certainly a trip up north that most teams in the Premier league would grimace at the thought of making. Because at the moment, earning points on Wearside is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. It's simply too easy.

Coleman goes on to speak about the so called 'relegation battle' and very much comes across as a realist. He knows we've played 17 games with one win to show for our troubles. But he also acknowledges there's 30 more to go with a possible 90 points on offer. I'm not saying we'll take 90 points from those games. If I was, people would be asking serious questions about my mental stability. But there's clearly enough opportunity left in the season to drag the Black Cats out of this mess.

The squad is too good for their current league standing and Coleman knows he must instil some confidence and team spirit into this collection of players. He also knows he has to get the fans back on side, the negativity emanating from the stands is simply astonishing when Sunderland make a mistake or fall behind. There have been some spectacularly silly mistakes made, but bad luck has almost had as much of an impact on results as poor play. Dodgy refereeing or physics defying deflections of the ball aside, the Stadium of Light faithful can be the 12th man and can force some good luck onto the side, especially if they're, 'rocking and rolling,' which Coleman has publicly said is one of his priorities.

I genuinely believe he understands it's a big job at a big club with a loyal, yet expectant fan base that has suffered for too long.

"Someone has to turn this club around. Sooner or later this club will start climbing again and playing in front of a full house again, and get the city rocking and rolling so that it’s right behind the club. I hope that’s me, of course. You can go through your career as a manager and never manage a big club and I always wanted to sample that, have that experience, and here I am."

Coleman then goes on to address one of the issues seen by most fans as making or breaking any managers tenure. Transfers.

He very much gives the impression he knows what he's got to work with. Coleman knows he's going to have to sell to buy and that any real money is going to be negligible at best. But like he says, he's walking into this situation with his eyes open and he's not deterred. Sunderland have already been linked with two exciting young Welsh prospects as possible loan targets, such is the nature of the relationships he's had time to nurture during his spell in the top job at Wales.

Overall Coleman has said give him time. Let him, 'get his feet under the table.' He needs time to assess and to try and instil some much needed solidity and faith in a team and fan base trapped in a deep malaise. His first challenge is to restore some confidence and see a team playing with heart and courage.  These are all things that will be music to our ears. These are not characteristics he hopes his team displays. These are characteristics he expects his team to display. He's going to learn what his team is made of.

Coleman knows better than most what is required to pick up a group of players who are rock bottom and piece them together into a semblance of a working whole. He did it with a Wales team left devastated by the unexpected loss of a national legend. It didn't happen overnight. It's not going to happen overnight with Sunderland.

Sunderland need to win games and this interview boils down to just that. An absolute, necessary need to taste the sweet, sweet nectar of victory once again. Do it enough times and it becomes a habit.

Coleman has a mountain to climb.

Apparently the three rules of mountaineering are, 'It's always further than it looks. It's always taller than it looks. And it's always harder than it looks.' It's remarkable how closely those words ring true with the task of managing Sunderland.

I get the feeling that if anyone is good enough to ascend this most daunting of challenges. It's Chris Coleman. 
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