Can Coleman keep the Black Cats up?

Our very own Gerard Watson recently wrote at length about he feels that it’s a myth that Sunderland are doomed to their second relegation in a row. Yet as far as football betting tips go, Sunderland remain among many experts’ choice for relegation – and after just one win all season, it’s easy to see why.

Some of us got our hopes up when the board appointed Chris Coleman as manager. But does the Welshman really have what it takes to help us avoid the drop? Let’s assess his chances…


Considering the general impression that Sunderland AFC is rotten to the core, it’s impressive that owner, Ellis Short, and Chief Executive, Martin Bain, were able to lure Coleman to the Stadium of Light.

The appointment certainly makes sense for the Black Cats and the thinking is clear: if anyone can help us, Coleman can. After all, Coleman has achieved the impossible before. As manager of Wales, he took his national side to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 with a side made up of Championship players, Premier League also-rans and one world-class player in Gareth Bale.

Despite narrowly missing out on World Cup qualification, Coleman had plenty of job options, including remaining as Wales’ manager. With this in mind, Coleman’s appointment is definitely something of a coup for the club.

Working with a limited budget

Coleman made it clear that he won’t be able to “splash the cash” in the January transfer window. That’s all well and good because after his Wales experience, Coleman obviously knows how to work with limited options.

But at Sunderland, the new boss has the advantage of being able to expand his squad to some extent. In an interview with the Sunderland Echo, he said that a goalkeeper was a priority and that he was looking to bring Liverpool’s third-choice keeper, Danny Ward, to the Stadium of Light on loan. It’s obvious the boss has a clear plan to steer us away from the drop.

Man management

The Welshmen clearly loves a challenge, and whether we’re “rotten from the inside” or not, he certainly has a lot of work to do – starting with the players.

There have been serious rumours about dressing-room unrest ever since Paolo Di Canio was manager. The players were apparently furious that the Italian questioned their work ethic and lifestyles. There were also claims that Gus Poyet “lost the dressing room” before his sacking in 2015. 

Last season, David Moyes was also reported to lose faith in his players’ attitudes, with tensions boiling over in his last week as boss. But when Sam Allardyce saved us from relegation back in 2016, he did so by getting into the players’ heads. And Coleman also needs to show who’s boss right from the start, as proper man-management is surely the key to getting us out of trouble.

Part of the unexpected success of Wales’ Euro 2016 lay in Coleman’s rapport with his squad. According to reports, the Welsh lads loved him and did everything to please him.

While we lost 2-1 against Aston Villa in Coleman’s first game as boss, there were some aspects of our game to suggest we might be moving forward. After spending just two days with the squad, Coleman managed to change the style of play and ensure we kept more possession. The squad are already listening to the boss and rightly so.

Robbie Savage recently said that he believes Coleman’s Sunderland squad will “walk through brick walls” for their new manager. With Coleman on board, there’s every reason to hope he’s the one to turn things around.

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