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Ball calls for Short to make appointment sooner rather than later
WITH an international break on the horizon, Sunderland caretaker manager Kevin Ball has called for Paolo Di Canio’s permanent successor to be named as soon as possible and admits Ellis Short’s next move could be pivotal to the club’s future.
Ball takes charge of his third game against Manchester United tomorrow having overseen the win over Peterborough and last weekend’s defeat to Liverpool with the Black Cats still looking for their first win of the season.
Di Canio was sacked almost a fortnight ago following the 3-0 defeat to West Brom at the Hawthorns, but unlike when Martin O’Neill was sacked and replaced within 24 hours, Short is taking his time to appoint a new manager.
Having allowed Di Canio to bring in 14 players during the close season, Short is aware of the pressure to appoint the right man and Ball, who is among Gus Poyet, Roberto Di Matteo, Rene Meulensteen and Gianfranco Zola as a contender to take over on Wearside, believes the international break that follows this weekend’s Premier League schedule offers the ideal time for the new manager to come in and assess things.
“I think it’s important that we all know (what is going to happen). If a new man comes in, he needs that period of time to sort things out,” said Ball.
“If it’s me that takes over, I need that time to do what I want to do. I think everybody will be quite understanding of that. What’s important now is that we get behind everybody for the game on tomorrow night. Then on Sunday whatever happens happens.”
Ball has made no secret of his desire to land the job on a permanent basis, but admits the only contact he has had with Short this week was to discuss tomorrow evening’s game.
He said: “We’ve had phone calls. I’ve spoken to different people at the club when they are around. We agreed about doing the Manchester United game. Then I just said, obviously I’d like to know what is going to happen after that.
“I think it will be more of a case of if they wanted to come and speak to me, or if they said right, ‘We’d like to speak to you now’. If it meant it dragged on a couple of days next week, so be it. But I think everybody would like to say, ‘Well let’s get something settled now’, and the ideal opportunity would be then. And I think the club as a whole would like that as well.
“We just spoke and they just said about the Manchester United game. And I said fine. I think it’s important we have some sort of stability this week. The club needed that in terms of the transitional period we are in at the moment.
“I’d imagine the next decision will be big for any club in a particular situation like this. It’ll always be a decision that some will say is a right one and some will say is a wrong one. Ultimately the proof is in what happens after. It’s a lose lose situation depending on who you are and what happens.
“I’ve tried not to think about any of that. I’m just really concentrating on Saturday’s game if I’m being honest. I think the decision then, when it is made, what is important, irrespective of what happens, is that we push in the right direction together.”
Ball is the players’ choice to replace Di Canio and the caretaker manager reveals he has seen a positive attitude from the squad in training this week.
“On the training field they have worked how I would expect,” Ball said. “There are bits where I’ve asked them to work even harder. I think they expect that from me. They understand that I know football. They get paid a lot of money but to do it correctly is hard work.
“They all know from the way I am, what I will accept and what I won’t. What I think is reasonable and what I think is unreasonable. It’s nice to hear their support. The players have worked hard but it has been a tough week for them.”
Whether Ball will be in charge of Sunderland beyond the international break remains to be seen, but the new manager could receive an immediate boost with Steven Fletcher on course to return after the break.
Ball said: “I’d imagine that’s what we will aim for. We said four to six weeks. He is running now. It was a sore injury. It was not something that was comfortable for him.
“They said four to six weeks and he might be aiming for the back end of the international break, and that would be fantastic news if he was.”
Meanwhile, Sunderland are closing in on teenage defender John Souttar after Dundee United revealed they have accepted a £600,000 bid for the player.
The Black Cats failed in an attempt to land the Scottish teenager in the summer and it is thought their latest move now hinges on Souttar agreeing personal terms at the Stadium of Light.
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