Sunderland coaches always start strongly and Michael Lintorn foresees Dick Advocaat continuing the tradition…
Short-termism and Sunderland have been inseparable partners this decade, and the Black Cats have decided to finally embrace it wholly by hiring latest head coach Dick Advocaat until the end of the season.
Some might consider the concept of a ten-week, nine-game boss unwise – will the players really give everything for someone who might be gone before they head off on holiday? However, as their last three tacticians were all gone within 18 months, they are conditioned to expect such circumstances.
For everything that the Sunderland hierarchy have got wrong in recent years, the one thing that they specialise in is picking coaches who inspire an instant impact.
Indeed, this predilection for powerful personalities who initially captivate and cajole before seemingly being found out and floundering has probably been far more of a fault than a virtue.
Yet if Advocaat lifts the squad as Martin O’Neill, Paolo Di Canio and Gus Poyet did previously, the beauty this time is that he will probably be gone before there is a chance to encounter the ugly but all too familiar phase where everything rapidly comes crashing down.
For the first time in a while, there would be no hefty compensation payout for a large backroom team that are no longer required.
O’Neill won seven of his opening ten Premier League games with a side who had struggled to two victories in 14 under Steve Bruce. Di Canio nixed a run of two points from eight league matches with successive wins to nil away to Newcastle and at home to bogey club Everton, while Poyet triumphed in his first three Stadium of Light fixtures against the trio of Newcastle, Southampton and Man City.
In Advocaat’s favour is the fact that he is used to this kind of “come in and give it a lash” assignment, with his past three club jobs lasting a year or less, as did his four of his previous five international stints.
The Wearsiders have also timed it so that there is a smooth introduction for the Dutchman. Though they have taken just seven points from their most recent 12 league outings, it isn’t implausible that the newcomer will equal or better that total in his first three.
Advocaat starts with a televised trip to West Ham, who have won once in 15 clashes with top-flight opposition since Christmas. The Irons can be laid at 1.8810/11, and Sunderland are 5.04/1 to triumph.
Then it’s Newcastle at home. The last few Black Cats bosses – no matter how hopeless – seemed to find the derby easy. They seized bragging rights in all of the past four, drawing the two before that.
After that, they welcome Crystal Palace, who are managed by Alan Pardew – the victim of all those Tyne-Wear disasters. No wonder they remain as long as 2.767/4 to be relegated despite being a mere point above the drop zone.
Seven points from that triple header would carry them up to 33, with Leicester at home to come. 36 points was enough for survival last term.
Finally, you will note that Advocaat is still as long as 2.727/4 in the next Sunderland manager market. That is because it takes either a permanent appointment or ten successive league matches in charge to trigger a payout (there are nine left in 2014/15).
It is therefore notable that Sam Allardyce, whose West Ham contract expires this summer, is 5.69/2, with Paul Clement 8.88/1 and Steve McClaren 30.029/1.