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Ball knows what it means to lead Sunderland
KEVIN BALL has outlined why he wants a crack at managing Sunderland full-time and described how any new arrival at the Stadium of Light should be given a history lesson about the club.
Ball will take charge of his second game as caretaker boss since Paolo Di Canio was sacked last Sunday when Liverpool travel to Wearside tomorrow afternoon.
If the man holding the reins temporarily can secure a surprise result, which would amount to a first Premier League win of the season, there could be growing support for him to be given the role permanently.
The man from Hastings made 340 league appearances for Sunderland and his two spells working for Sunderland extends to 20 years of service.
The former skipper has seen the club go through massive changes, alarming lows and huge highs during his time in the North-East, so he knows more than most what it is like to be associated with the Black Cats.
Such memories of playing and working for them over two decades is experience he is keen to relay to players from first team level down to grassroots both now and in the future.
Ball said: "One of the things I think is important is that with any player going to a club, they need to know the club's history, they need to know what it's about and what's expected of them.
“You can't just bring them in without that. They should probably, and this is not just here, each player, be given a book, in whatever language is needed, saying ‘This is Sunderland AFC’. It would explain what we're about, that's what our coat of arms is about, these are the people of Sunderland, these are your supporters and do you understand now why they expect 100 per cent effort 100 per cent of the time.”
Ball was born in Sussex and his first two clubs were Coventry and Portsmouth before moving to Sunderland in 1990. After returning south for a year with Fulham he headed back north to Burnley. Eventually he decided to return to live in the North-East.
Regardless of an individual’s nationality or region of birth, Ball is convinced it is possible to adapt and enjoy a new area to live in, which is what he feels many of Sunderland’s new-look squad will find.
He said: “Hard work underpinned things and got me the career I had here and playing until I was nearly 38. I've worked here since coming back from Burnley, it's a hard-working area where people just want you to work hard and they'll support you.
“They love you and they want you to show that you love them and I don't just mean running hard, it can be technical stuff as well. As soon as I came here I could sense what the fans were all about.”
Uruguayan Gustavo Poyet remains the front-runner for the manager’s job on a full-time basis after holding discussions with owner Ellis Short in London. Director of football Roberto De Fanti is still pushing for him to replace Di Canio.
And while Ball will be happy if he is told to go back to work with the Under-21s by Short over the next ten days, he is hoping to at least make the American owner think about installing him.
The 48-year-old said: "I enjoy coaching and doing what I do with the Under-21s, it's a logical step, it's not as if I've come from the wilderness, I've been doing a job very similar to that anyhow, so it's not such a massive transition.
“I've said I want to be considered for the job, I think that's more the fact I'm at the club and anybody who is anybody would want to be. If they did want to go down another route, that's the club's prerogative.
"No doubt they'd explain to me why and I'd explain how I felt about it and they'd have my full support and I'd go back to my job.”
Ball had a ten game spell in temporary charge following Mick McCarthy’s demise in 2006 and has always harboured hopes of becoming a frontline football boss.
He has enjoyed his first week at the Academy of Light with the players, many of which are happier after demanding the sacking of Di Canio following months of his strict rules.
"I'll be honest with you I wasn't aware that anything like that was banned,” said Ball, after being asked about Di Canio’s decision to take a few things of the menu.
“In terms of condiments, that's something that's always available and if they choose to have them that's OK. I'm not saying ‘haway lad get yourself a bucket load of tomato sauce’. They don't tend to use it.
“You have to respect people and how they want to do things. I'd respect Paolo Di Canio’s view from that point of view because that's what he chose to do.”
Ball was reluctant to talk openly about the players’ decision to rebel against Di Canio, which came to a head last Sunday when a delegation from the dressing room demanded his removal following a bust-up.
The man holding control now, though, will not allow the players to control him either, although he accepts there has to be a bit of lee-way.
Ball said: "All I would say is that the players are professional and know in terms discipline what is expected. However, I'm in charge, long or short, so we have to be disciplined and work hard.
“I won't tolerate things we feel are unacceptable and the players are aware, so in that sense there's not a great deal of change. Do I like a laugh on the training ground? Yes, there's a time and a place.
“But if I felt somebody was not doing things right I'd speak to them about it. Training's there for a reason, it's not there to mess about.”
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