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Coleman unable to halt Sunderland’s decline as Black Cats face relegation

Despite optimism upon Chris Coleman’s arrival at the Stadium of Light, the Sunderland job has only proven a poisoned chalice, with the club seemingly destined for relegation.

Martyn Cooke



Chris Coleman
Photo: Reuters

When Chris Coleman led Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016, who could have envisaged that less than two years later he would be embroiled in a desperate relegation battle at the foot of the Championship, with a club that appears determined to tear itself apart?

There were plenty of eyebrows raised when it was announced in November that the 47-year-old would be the next Sunderland manager.

The Black Cats were sinking towards the third tier of English football having suffered relegation from the Premier League the previous season and the future of the club was unclear with American owner Ellis Short actively looking to sell.

Quite why Coleman opted to take the Sunderland job is anyone’s guess.

Perhaps the 47-year-old bought into a vision that he would be able to turn the club’s fortunes around and help Sunderland to finally fulfil its obvious potential.

However, the fact that he was about to become the Black Cat’s ninth manager in six seasons should have been the warning sign that the problems and issues that have underpinned the club’s demise are deep-rooted and entrenched.

When Coleman first arrived ay the Stadium of Light he spoke enthusiastically about rebuilding the club.

However, that energy and enthusiasm has gradually been eroded week by week and it now looks an almost certainty that the Welshman will need to commence his resurrection of the club in League One next season.

Tuesday night’s one-goal defeat against Bolton Wanders has left Sunderland rooted to the foot of the Championship whilst Saturday’s entertaining 3-3 draw against Middlesbrough means that they are four points short of safety.

However, only four wins in 17 league games since Coleman took over in November suggests that the Black Cats will need to produce an unprecedented run of form in the closing weeks of the season to stand even the slimmest chance of survival.

In truth, relegation feels only a matter of time.

A club in chaos

Whilst Chris Coleman will need to shoulder a degree of responsibility for Sunderland’s current predicament, the 47-year-old has been dealt an awful hand of cards.

Financially, the club are in a mess and owner Ellis Short has now been desperately looking to sell the Black Cats for over eighteen months.

Since purchasing the club a decade ago, the American saddled Sunderland with debts reportedly in excess of £100 million and has overseen relegation to the Championship.

The supporters have not been shy to voice their discontent, frustration and anger at Short’s ownership, yet the club will be stranded in limbo until a credible buyer steps forward.

The off-pitch chaos and lack of investment has directly impacted proceedings on it.

The club reportedly has an annual wage bill of £35 million that has all but swallowed up the first year of parachute payments and the £30 million received from the sale of Jordan Pickford in the summer.

Simon Grayson was handed the task of making Sunderland competitive in The Championship but was handed no money to build a squad. He spent less that £2 million in the summer on 10 new players.

The suggestion that Coleman would be provided with significant funds in the January window, in contrast to his predecessor, was little more than blind optimism.

The Welshman, who inherited a squad lacking in quality and depth, was permitted to sign just four loan players last month despite the team desperately in need of immediate reinforcing.

Coleman may have succeeded Grayson in November, but he has been forced to work under exactly the same financial restrictions.

The 47-year-old has consequently had to rely on his ability as a coach and motivator in order to try and improve results, although with little success as he wrestles with a complex group of players – some lack motivation, some lack experience and some simply lack quality.

Quite where relegation will leave both Sunderland and Coleman is unclear.

Without a buyer the Black Cats appear destined to suffer from a lack of investment that will leave the club in a desperate downwards spiral. The future certainly looks bleak at the Stadium of Light.

For Coleman, the decision to take up the managerial role at Sunderland appears to have backfired badly.

It remains to be seen how long he will be willing to stick with the club, but he will be fully aware that with every defeat the high-profile reputation that he built whilst in charge of Wales in being slowly eroded.

It may be easier to leave the sinking ship rather than stand on the bridge as it disappears beneath the waves.

The success of the Welsh team at Euro 2016 already feels like a distant memory.

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.


Age and wages will leave Sunderland struggling to sell Papy Djilobodji

Mathew Nash



There is a sense of excitement around Sunderland at the moment, despite their relegation to League One. It is only the second time the club has featured in the third-tier of English football but with a new owner, new manager and a new first-team shaping up, there are reasons to be positive.

Of course, there is also some deadwood to trim. Four players who are all expected to leave Sunderland this season are currently still on the books. Didier Ndong, Lamine Kone, Bryan Oviedo and Papy Djilobodji are all set to leave this summer.

The latter will no doubt prove the hardest to sell.

Djilobodji joined Sunderland from Chelsea in the summer of 2016 for a fee in the region of £8 million. The Senegalese star went on to become an undoubted failure at the Stadium of Light.

(Photo credit should read PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images)

Despite impressing on loan at Werder Bremen before his move to Wearside, he flopped dramatically. He played 21 times as Sunderland were relegated from the Premier League, failing to impress in any of his appearances.

Now, despite the fact he had a half-decent spell at Dijon on loan last season, selling the player will not be easy.

The 29-year-old, who has had his wages stopped after failing to report for pre-season training, turns 30 in December. Sunderland will want to recoup as much of their £8 million fee as possible, although surely know that is increasingly unlikely. Nobody will go near that price for a failing talent approaching his 30th birthday.

“He has requested not to come back – no we are not paying his wages.”

– Sunderland owner Stewart Donald on Papy Djilobodji


Then there are his wages. Djilobodji is reportedly on £33,000-a-month, according to L’Equipe, which no club will want to pay for his services. that equates to £1.7 million-a-year. 


Sunderland must do what they can to get rid of the Senegalese defender. But finding someone to stump up cash and buy him? That is looking like a tall order.   

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Elliot Embleton shows Sunderland what he can do with stunning England u-19 display

The England under-19 international was sensational against Turkey yesterday.

Mathew Nash



England under-19s got their European Championship campaign off to a winning start yesterday evening. They defeated Turkey 3-2 in a hard-fought affair in Finland. It was a game which will have left Sunderland fans very excited.

The winning goal was scored in the 54th minute by Sunderland midfielder Elliot Embleton. His goal made it 3-1 before Turkey pulled one back moments later. He cut in from the right-hand side before rifling a rasping left-footed curler into the top-corner. It was an unstoppable goal and that, in itself, should have been enough to have Sunderland fans excited.

But his all-round performance was sensational.

(Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images)

He swung in a right-footed free-kick for Japhet Tanganga to score England’s first of the night. He then slotted a perfectly timed left-footed through ball into Ben Brereton, the Nottingham Forest man finishing coolly.

Sunderland were relegated to League One last season and it seems plenty of their young talent will get a chance this season

Embleton has to be a part of that. The 19-year-old looks to be a star of the future for Sunderland, if he can replicate this sort of performance on a regular basis.

There is certainly reason for Sunderland fans to be excited about Embleton’s potential impact at the Stadium of Light.

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Mohamed Eisa could be Sunderland’s answer to Jamie Vardy

The Sudanese striker has been in goalscoring form his entire footballing career.

Mathew Nash



Sunderland look in pole position to sign Mohamed Eisa from Cheltenham Town this summer. As reported by the Roker Report yesterday, Sunderland made a seven-figure bid for the player last week. That has since been reported by the Sunderland Echo to be in the region of £1 million and would be an excellent piece of business from the Black Cats.

Sunderland desperately need a new striker. The club are lacking any real striking options other than youngster Josh Maja.

Eisa has been in fine form for Cheltenham. Last season he scored 25 goals in 50 games for the League Two side in his debut Football League season.

(Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

There are of course reservations over his footballing background. The Sudanese-born Londoner has never played above League Two level. He came through the non-league ranks with Dartford, Corinthian and Greenwich Borough – never receiving any ‘formal’ academy football training.

But his raw talent could be enough to carry him through to success at Sunderland. The 24-year-old has a career record of 98 goals in 161 games.

That is comparable to Charlie Austin, who made his name with the likes of Hungerford Town, Poole Town and Swindon before heading for the big leagues. The best example, however, is probably Jamie Vardy.

Stocksbridge Park Steels, Halifax Town and Fleetwood Town is where he cut his teeth. Now he is an England international, Premier League winner and record breaker.

Sunderland will be aware this is a gamble but, as evident, those gambles can pay off. If Eisa goes on to become their very own Jamie Vardy, then £1 million will look a bargain in the years to come.

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