WHEN Mike Dodds sits down with Sunderland's new head coach in the summer, the man currently in charge of the first team will have one crucial bit of advice for the incoming permanent boss: be honest and genuine with the supporters.

In two separate spells as interim head coach this season, Dodds says he's learnt that at a club the size of Sunderland every word uttered by the man in charge is scrutinised.

But that, he says, is not a problem providing you're true to yourself.

Sunderland chiefs continue to assess their head coach options and speak to candidates ahead of making a decision on the permanent replacement for Michael Beale in the summer.

Dodds will be in charge for the final three games of the campaign, the first of which is today when Millwall visit the Stadium of Light (3pm), and is then expected to be part of the new boss's coaching team.

Dodds has made no secret of his desire to go on and become a full-time head coach in the future but Sunderland chiefs value the 37-year-old enormously.

And having been part of the backroom team working under both Tony Mowbray and Beale - as well as taking interim charge after the exits of both - Dodds is well placed to offer some crucial advice to the new head coach, whoever it is.

"One thing that I've realised in this position is every word is going to be scrutinised," he says.

"Everything that comes out of my mouth, whether it's negative or positive, will be scrutinised, but if you're genuine and authentic and honest, that goes a really long way with this supporter base.

"I've always tried to do that. I've never tried to shirk any questions, I've always tried to be the best version of me and not try to be anything I'm not.

"Whoever that person is has to show their genuine authentic self. I've always said all the Sunderland fans want - and I think the Leicester game was an example and I spoke to the players about it after the game. OK, we lost the game but the majority of the fans stayed in the stadium because they could see a group that has given everything.

"I'd like to think I've done that as head coach. I've worked extremely hard to try and squeeze as much as I can out of the group."


Results haven't necessarily gone to plan for Dodds since he took charge after Beale's sacking, with the Black Cats hosting Millwall today having won just two of their last 10 games. But there has been a spirited response to last month's Blackburn hammering, with Sunderland unbeaten in three and keeping clean sheets along the way.

Dodds said: "Whoever comes into this position, I said it previously when I took over from Tony, they're coming into a good dressing room, they're good guys, they've given me everything up to this point.

"I felt they let themselves down in the Blackburn game and I think one or two of the players have come out and publicly held their hands up to that.

"But I've always said as head coach, if I'm going to point the finger at the players there are going to be three fingers pointed back at me.

"I think the next head coach is going to have a really good dressing room, a talented dressing room. It needs a little bit more depth probably. But I think the next person, as long as he's genuine and authentic and he's honest with the fans, that's really the kind of foundations any Sunderland fan can ask for.

"Because this club has such a huge support base, communication and clarity - whether the fans like what they hear is a completely separate conversation or issue - but one thing I have learnt in this role is just be really genuinely open and honest and authentic. Some people will like that, some people won't. But one thing they'll never label at you is you're toeing the party line."