Excited finale shows why Chris Coleman took on Sunderland job

We have been here before, of course.

Monday, 27th November 2017, 10:24 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th December 2017, 11:49 am
Chris Coleman.

Photos of Martin O’Neill’s trademark touchline leap, seen in Wearside colours for the first time after Seb Larsson’s late free-kick against Blackburn, were shared far and wide.

Then, of course, there was Paolo Di Canio’s moment of theatre, waltzing to the centre circle after a shock win over Everton.

Like so many before them, bright starts faded into ignominy.

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Nevertheless, Chris Coleman’s own goosebump moment highlighted why this appointment, one that baffled so many in the wider game, has such rich potential.

Yes, as many have pointed out, Coleman could probably have waited for a post at a Premier League club where the resources are greater and the squad better, where he could have failed to keep them up and lost his job, or kept them up and found himself tied to the managerial merry-go-round that leaves little room and has little time for building something worthwhile.

Coleman faces all manner of difficulties with Sunderland, but the delirium that greeted Saturday’s hard-working win over Burton showed that here he has the chance to build a legacy, to become a name that resonates rather than merely another one to pass through the Premier League mill.

The outpouring of emotion that came as he marched towards the away supporters was perfectly timed.

The Welshman had kept his cool throughout the game, even when Sunderland’s struggles on the ball and occasional positioning errors in defence were a source of clear frustration.

With the game finely poised, he made some surprising but decisive subsitutions, taking off his two wide players, who had flickered but never intervened decisively.

Even the goal celebrations were understated, Coleman making a point, after James Vaughan’s 84th-minute opener, to seek out Lee Cattermole, who had made an excellent run to the front post to make the all important flick-on.

That calm broke on the final whistle, however, Coleman roaring at the travelling support and being greeted by something altogether more defeaning.

The wild celebrations may have seemed strange to those looking on elsewhere.

After all, Sunderland remain deep in relegation trouble and a win over Burton, whose budget is one of if not the lowest in the league, should be the minimum standard.

Yet it is hard to truly put it into words just how low the mood had descended on Wearside and just what a breath of fresh air Coleman’s convincing communication and leadership has been in the last week.

He brings the same blend of realism and yet also bullishness that made Sam Allardyce so revered and it has already lifted spirits immeasurably.

There remains a dizzying amount of work for Coleman to do and the sluggish nature that we saw for much of Saturday’s game was testament to that.

Sunderland are heading into a relentless period of fixtures with a squad ravaged by injuries and lacking the all-important speed and creativity to carve out regular wins.

Bright starts have faded away before and so Coleman’s post-match message, milk it for a while but don’t carried away, was perfect.

This is a difficult job even for someone whose stock is so high.

Perhaps, however, those left bemused by his choice of club will understand it a little better when they see that stirring full-time footage.

There is nothing quite like the momentum that comes with waking the sleeping giant.

Not too many clubs can offer that kind of opportunity, and Coleman seems determined to grasp it with both hands.