For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Ball to learn his fate as Sunderland's owner prepares to act
KEVIN BALL will learn whether he is to be Sunderland's permanent manager within the next 48 hours as Ellis Short finally brings the club's recruitment drive to a close.
Ball took charge of his third game as caretaker boss on Saturday, and while his side conceded two second-half goals to slip to a 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United, there was plenty to admire in the Black Cats' play, particularly during a one-sided first half in which they outplayed the reigning champions.
Ball, a former Sunderland skipper, has made no secret of his desire to succeed Paolo Di Canio on a permanent basis, and Short is known to have been impressed at the 48-year-old's success in terms of pulling the squad together and healing some of the divisions that had emerged under his predecessor.
However, with a number of other candidates having been interviewed and discussed, Ball admits he has no idea whether he will be offered a permanent post.
“I would imagine I'll speak to one of the board members in the next couple of days,” said the interim head coach. “Then I'd imagine I'll find out what's going to happen. I've enjoyed the last three games, and it's a nice environment down there (at the training ground).
“I spoke to the chairman (Short) before the game. It was nice that he came down to the dressing room beforehand and wished us all the best, which was great and that.
“He seemed in a very upbeat mood and, from my point of view, it was all about getting through the game. Now, it's an ideal time for a decision to be made.”
With a two-week hiatus because of the international break, Sunderland will have a new manager installed by the time they resume their Premier League programme with a trip to Swansea on October 19.
Gus Poyet remains the bookmakers' favourite, although it is surely telling that nothing has happened since the former Brighton boss appeared on Uruguayan radio effectively describing the Sunderland job as his own in the aftermath of Di Canio's departure.
Short has spoken to Poyet and his representatives, while chief executive Margaret Byrne is understood to have sought clarification from Brighton officials over the background to the former Chelsea midfielder's acrimonious departure from the Amex Stadium.
Poyet's playing experience, coaching credentials and standing in the game make him an appealing candidate. However, having had their fingers burned once with Di Canio, Sunderland's recruitment team are adamant that their due diligence process will not be compromised this time around.
The most interesting development at the weekend was the appearance of stories in the German press linking the Wearsiders with former Schalke boss Ralf Rangnick.
Rangnick has held a director of football role at Red Bull Salzburg and RB Leipzig since leaving Schalke in 2011 because of health problems.
However, sources close to the 55-year-old, who guided Schalke to the Champions League semi-finals, claim he is keen to return to frontline management.
He was West Brom's second-choice candidate when they appointed Steve Clarke, and with Short adamant that he will not be changing a managerial structure that sees a great deal of power reside with director of football, Roberto de Fanti, it is easy to see why the Black Cats owner would be drawn to someone with extensive experience of a continental model.
Rangnick would be willing to cede control of recruitment to de Fanti in a way that other domestic candidates such as Tony Pulis or Alex McLeish might not.
Short broke his silence over Di Canio's departure in his programme notes ahead of Saturday's game, and while he admits it is imperative that the club's next choice of manager is a success, he claims it would have been wrong not to act with Sunderland's Premier League status in jeopardy.
“Like every supporter, we would like to see long-term success on the pitch and stability at the club,” said Short. “Unfortunately, sometimes the quest for stability can be interrupted by the absolute necessity of staying in the league. This is because the long-term aim becomes irrelevant if we aren't at the top level.
“We now have a very important decision to make. Our only consideration in making that decision is what is best for the club. In doing so, we feel the weight of the entire city and beyond, along with the history of this massive football club. The appointment of a replacement head coach is our priority.”
Comments are closed on this article.