Is it time for Sunderland to come out and back David Moyes?
Sam Allardyce for Sunderland? Harry Redknapp? Harry Houdini?
The list of potential Black Cats saviours is not lengthy and one of the above has been dead for 90 years.
Sunderland need saving, that’s for sure, given they are already eight points shy of safety. With a quarter of the season already gone, the future is not bright.
Would Big Sam come back anyway even if asked?
He turned it around last season, albeit from a slightly better position, but he had better players at his disposal.
Allardyce may well look at the table, the injury list, the prospects and just think to himself ‘thanks, but no thanks’. You could not blame him.
Who else is there?
Ryan Giggs has had his name bandied around and for all he’d carry great respect for his playing career, his management experience has been limited to a few matches in charge of Manchester United, ironically after Moyes was sacked, and a comfy chair in the Old Trafford dug out next to Louis van Gaal.
Giggs would be a huge risk and, like Allardyce, would he take it in the position the Black Cats are in? Even the man from Del Monte wouldn’t say yes.
The best thing Sunderland could do in these circumstances is for someone very high up the ladder coming out and say “David Moyes is our manager today and will be our manager in November 2017. It might not be pleasant to watch at the moment, but please stay behind him and the players.”
Martin Bain hinted heavily in his recent interview on the club’s website that Moyes is here for the long term. Now it is surely an opportunity for him to say so in black and white, if the red and white nation forgive the choice of phrase.
Bain has made all the right noises, here are the telling words from that interview.
“We have to now look forward,” he said on www.safc.com.
“From both our perspectives it’s very much about re-building.
“Fundamentally, the biggest message I’d like to get across to those who work here and to our fans, is that we want to get back to basics.
“Sunderland is a football club that has to be synonymous with its North-East identity, the fans want that from their club.
“Without being disparaging to anything that’s gone before, it’s probably lost its identity, it’s maybe tried to be something that it’s not so now it’s a case of let’s do the basics correctly, build and then take a more longer term approach.”
Sunderland have played Russian Roulette for too long and this could be the season when the unthinkable, unpalatable happens.
They have certainly done to death the short-term solution – ‘the team is struggling and may get relegated so let’s sack the manager’.
Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neill, Paolo Di Canio, Gus Poyet and Dick Advocaat have all come and gone with various degrees of success, or not, and Big Sam looked the man until England called.
Has the policy kept Sunderland in the Premier League? Owner Ellis Short could argue it has.
But has it made the club better or stronger? You could find no-one to answer yes to that. The decay has been frightening and that has come from constant change.
Fans have not turned on Moyes, publicly anyway, and the away support continue to sing his name. While there is understandable dissatisfaction of sitting through defeat after defeat, there has to be a realisation that sticking plasters over gaping wounds won’t solve anything.
Moyes may not be pulling up any trees at the present time, but it’s only three years, not 33, since he was Britain’s top manager, prised from his beloved Everton to become Man United boss.
Don’t look at his Old Trafford record, not that it is that bad, view his years at Goodison where he lost just 120 of his 426 matches.
It’s not just his won, drawn, lost figures, it’s the manner he developed and progressed young talent, the way he created a club-team-fans bond.
He spent a week or three in the relegation zone on Merseyside yet transformed a club going backwards into a Premier League force.
Moyes may be getting pilloried from all sides, but he’s not going to walk away from Wearside after three months. He’s had to work so far with one hand tied behind his back due to an unsatisfactory transfer window and an horrific injury list.
The Scot, it is understood, has been the first choice of Mr Short for a number of years, so now will the owner stick to his hunch?
On the field, it looks a desperate situation, though it has to be said not impossible, not yet anyway, there are 84 points on offer and the Black Cats need another 34-plus.
Sunderland need stability if they are to grow back to where they feel they belong and they need to be brave and say they believe they have the man to do it.