Sunderland manager Chris Coleman opens up on his future, takeover hopes and fears of key assets being sold

Sunderland are a club '˜floating in the darkness'.

Friday, 27th April 2018, 7:33 am
Paddy McNair is a key man going forward for Sunderland, says Chris Coleman. Picture by Frank Reid

Those are manager Chris Coleman’s own words and so it is inevitable that his own future will be the subject of intense speculation.

Ipswich Town are the first club said to be monitoring the 47-year-old’s situation and they will not be the last.

Coleman cannot draw a line in the sand and say he will stay while so much remains up in the air, and the ex-Wales boss continues to insist than, when push comes to shove, the call will not be down to him.

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He remains desperate, however, to be the man who turns Sunderland around and the brutal reality of relegation to League One has not changed that.

His primary desire is for the club to be sold and he remains convinced that he has a vision that he can sell to any new owner, a realistic one to get Sunderland moving in the right direction quickly and emphatically.

He said: “The pull of the club is the size.

“I’ve come at a time, maybe my timing wasn’t right, but my choice of club was definitely right. For me, I may never have got another chance to manage Sunderland.

“Let’s say I get nudged in a couple of weeks’ time ... I can still say I was here, manager of Sunderland, and that means something to me.

“I hope that this time next year it is a completely different conversation, full of excitement and optimism. I still hold onto that.

“If it gets to the stage where I think I can’t do it, something drastic will have happened, and that’s after relegation, which is drastic enough. I’m not there yet.”

“One meeting is all I’d need, a couple of hours, just to show, ‘look, this is what the vision is, this is what we’ll do, how we’ll do it’.

“We’re not asking for £10million, anything like that, but we weren’t asking for anything like that in January to prevent this and it wasn’t forthcoming.

“It was a flat ‘no’. Am I optimistic that it will be any different? Not too optimistic.

“If a new person comes in and says ‘Chris, you’re not for us’, no problems. I have to accept that and I will.

“But I think they could be pleasantly surprised, that we can bounce back by holding on to the right assets and with just some steady investment, rather than massive investment.

“It could turn quickly because the supporters are crazy for the club. Once they’re proud of the team, it will move forward so quickly.

“Keep the players we need, add a bit of new life, and things could be different.”

That is the optimistic reading of the situation, but Coleman is aware how slowly the wheels have turned behind the scenes in recent months and he knows there may come a point where he will to have accept that the squad next season will be built on a pittance.

It was the same last summer, with Jordan Pickford sold in an attempt to raise capital, but little of it available for reinvestment in playing staff.

That the same could happen now, with the likes of Paddy McNair, is a huge concern.

Coleman added: “There could be a time where we say, we’re not going to be able to do what we do, it is going to be, rather than thinking about what players we’re going to be bringing in.

“Hopefully it doesn’t get to the stage where we say, ‘he needs to be sold, he needs to be sold’, so that we’re not even any worse money-wise.

“I hope it doesn’t get to that and it shouldn’t get to that, because I don’t think it needs too much money to get out of League One – if we keep the players that we need to keep.

“We need to invest a bit, but if we hold onto who we need to hold onto, we should be alright.

“If it comes to that, that’s the next level again, selling our assets.”

The Black Cats boss has again urged the club to learn lessons from last summer when prolonged takeover talks hampered preparations.

Simon Grayson was appointed as boss just days before pre-season began and inherited a threadbare squad.

Coleman said: “Surely we must learn from what happened last summer?

“Take nothing for granted in League One – we can’t do what we did in pre-season last season. It is massive that you hit the ground running.

“I’d like to think people have learned lessons from last year and that doesn’t happen last year.

“To be fair, I’ve said to Martin (Bain, the chief executive), whenever it is, we need to be talking about players who might be available, players we might get in, that kind of thing.

“We need to be pro-active, but we do get to a ceiling because we need a ‘yes’ from someone above.

“We can get so far –you can get things in place, which we have, but the big thing that needs to be in place isn’t.”