Uncertainty at Sunderland Continues

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SUNDERLAND - FEBRUARY 1: General view of the Stadium of Light during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Sunderland and Charlton Athletic held on February 1, 2003 at the Stadium of Light, in Sunderland, England. Charlton Athletic won the match 3-1. (Photo by Gary M. Prior/Getty Images)

As pre-season looms, the uncertainty at Sunderland has given fans cause to worry about the club’s future. David Moyes left his position as manager in May and the Black Cats are yet to appoint a successor.

Until very recently, current club owner Ellis Short continued in his attempts to sell the club. This has seen a succession of managers either turn down the chance of managing the side or rule themselves out of the running before being approached.

Recent developments with regards to the sale of the club and a new manager could signal an end to the uncertainty, even if many fans will not welcome the news and feel underwhelmed. The club could soon be able to prepare properly for the new season and what will undoubtedly be yet another tough year ahead.

Uncertainty at Sunderland Continues

Search for new manager begins

At the end of a dismal season and just weeks after saying he would be staying, David Moyes admitted defeat and resigned. The search was under way to appoint yet another manager. Many names were linked with the job but as time progressed, apparent leading candidates ruled themselves out or were employed by other clubs. As the days and weeks went by it became apparent that the club had set their sights firmly on one man: Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes.

McInnes turns down job

It looked a certainty that McInnes would be installed as the Black Cats new manager. Chief Executive Martin Bain flew out to America were McInnes was on holiday to conclude the deal. Aberdeen released a statement advising that permission had been given by them for their manager to talk to Sunderland and compensation had been agreed. For some fans he was not first choice, but he was a manager who had done well north of the border in Scotland on a limited budget. If he could do the same at Sunderland, then the future looked bright.

Soon after, talks between McInnes and Bain had finished. It was announced that Sunderland would not be getting the man they had chased for weeks, the Scot claiming that he still had unfinished business at Aberdeen. Other reports suggested that the imminent sale of the club and the uncertainty surrounding it played a big part in him rejecting Sunderland’s offer.

Sale of club 

It has been no secret that current owner Ellis Short was looking to sell the club if the price was right. After relegation was confirmed from the Premier League, talks with possible buyers began to take place. TV production company Fulwell73, named after a stand at the club’s old ground Roker Park and their 1973 FA Cup final success, looked to be in serious talks at one point.

The company, which includes TV presenter/actor James Corden, eventually backed out, stating that it wasn’t the right time for them to invest in the club. The US-based consortium who were involved in the Fulwell73 talks, however, appeared still to have an interest.

As the imposed deadline by Ellis Short drew closer, a German consortium once linked to Hull City seemed to be the the front runners as talks appeared to reach an advanced stage.

On 29th July the club issued a statement saying that talks had concluded and the sale would not be in the best interests of the club. Ellis Short will therefore remain in control. The statement also stated that Preston North End had given their permission for their manager Simon Grayson to talk to the Black Cats.

Pre-season

Sunderland players and staff will return for pre-season training this week with the first friendly on 7th July. With no permanent manger installed, first team coach Robbie Stockdale is likely to take charge. Pre-season friendlies have been scheduled, as has a training camp in Austria ahead of Sunderland’s first Championship game at home to Derby County.

With a new manager yet to be appointed and no new players, Stockdale will have to work with what is left of last season’s first-team squad and any youngsters from last season’s successful Under-23 squad that he feels are ready to be involved in the first team squad on a permanent basis. Who he has available to him remains to be seen in some cases. Several players have already departed and others are expected to complete moves away from the club in the near future.

With the attempted sale of the club ending, a new manager must be appointed at the earliest date. He then must be given the best possible chance to build a new squad ready for what could prove to be a tough season in the Championship.

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