There was a lot of head scratching when the news broke that Chris Coleman had resigned as Wales manager to take the hot seat at struggling Sunderland.
Sunderland are going nowhere fast and breaking all the wrong records. Their 2-2 draw with Millwall saw them became the first team in English football history to fail to win in 20 successive home games. Following a disastrous relegation last season, they sit bottom of the Championship with just one win in seventeen. Their best players including Jermain Defoe and Jordan Pickford have left the sinking ship and the club is in serious debt.
But as crazy as it sounds, Sunderland is actually a great opportunity for Chris Coleman. In his first interview, Coleman admitted Sunderland are the biggest club he’ll ever manage and have enormous potential. Saving Sunderland isn’t like keeping Preston, Barnsley or Burton Albion up. It’s a tough task but if Coleman can stabilise Sunderland, he will then be in charge of one of the best clubs in the Championship.
Former Black Cats boss Steve Bruce was in a similar position last season. He took over at Aston Villa with the club sat 19th in the Championship with just one win in their opening eleven games. That season ended with Bruce saving them with a mid table finish and this year they are fighting for a place in the playoffs. Bruce has been able to recruit John Terry on a free transfer and the likes of Robert Snodgrass and Josh Onomah on loan. These type of players don’t drop down a division for small teams and Sunderland will have that same sort of attraction.
Even with all of Sunderland’s problems there are few bigger clubs outside the Premier League so this is a great opportunity for Coleman as well as a huge challenge. His popularity has soared since Euro 2016 and he left behind the opportunity to take Wales to another tournament in 2020. Taking over at Sunderland is a huge gamble for Coleman but if he succeeds, he will then be in charge of one of the biggest clubs in the country and will be lauded for saving them.
His achievements with Wales was built on team spirit and togetherness; two qualities much needed at the Stadium of Light. Coleman now has twenty-nine games remaining to get Sunderland out of the trouble they are in. If he can jettison the dead wood and bring in some useful reinforcements he can turn them around in no time. Sunderland are in a terrible place but Coleman might just be the man to get them back on track.