CRAIG Liddle’s appointment as Sunderland’s new youth team coach is just reward for his harrowing trials at Darlington.
That’s the verdict of former Black Cats winger Neil Wainwright, who played for Liddle during the final three months of his spell in charge of the Quakers last season.
Liddle was this week announced as Sunderland’s new under-18s coach after predecessor Kevin Ball was promoted to reserve team boss following the departure of Keith Bertschin to Hull City.
It’s a far cry from the situation Liddle faced at Darlington last season where he found himself thrust into the impossible role of caretaker manager of a club who ultimately ceased to exist in their original state due to financial ruin.
Despite receiving plenty of plaudits for ensuring Darlington fulfilled their Blue Square Premier programme, the former Quakers youth team coach wanted to return to the day job of working with youngsters.
Liddle was hired by Sunderland during the summer and after being handled sole charge of the Black Cats rookies, Wainwright is confident the former Middlesbrough midfielder will prove a success.
Wainwright told SportMail: “In a sense, going to Sunderland is reward for the hard work he has put in. He deserves this job, which is a cracking one and one that’s ready-made for him.
“I know he was not really keen on first-team management, he was forced into it to a degree.
“He works with senior pro’s well, but he is really hard on himself and takes everything to heart.
“If the first-team loses, he feels it is fault and the pressure piles up.
“But with the youth team lads, it is less about results and more about bringing players on and he gets a great buzz about players improving.
“When I turned up at Darlington last season, I was amazed at the quality of the young lads there.
“With the sort of scouting network the big three North East clubs have got, then Darlington get the runt of the litter.
“But to produce the quality of players that Craig has, it shows it can be done.”