Niall Quinn: I wanted Louis van Gaal for Sunderland

Louis van Gaal
Louis van Gaal

NIALL QUINN has revealed how close new Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal came to being Sunderland boss.

Quinn has confirmed that he pursued van Gaal during his stint as Sunderland chairman and that owner Ellis Short was prepared to back him.

The ex-Black Cats striker also held talks with future-Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini for the job at the Stadium of Light.

In a new book on North-East football called Up There, written by local reporter Michael Walker, Quinn says he spoke to Van Gaal twice in 2009 once the club decided Ricky Sbragia would not remain in charge.

Quinn explains that when it came to Sbragia’s successor: “We’d always had Steve Bruce on the list.

“Maybe some would say we’d delusions of grandeur but we had good feedback from Louis van Gaal.

“I spoke to him personally a couple of times on the phone at home. One time his wife answered and told me: ‘Keep working on him, I want to go to England’.

“That was adventurous but Ellis was all set to back it if it came off.

“That was after Ricky. Roberto Mancini’s people got in touch with us at that time too. He’d been having English lessons.

“It was interesting. We opted for Steve and he got us a top-10 finish. He understood basic things like needing goalscorers – we had Danny Welbeck for a while.”

Quinn also reveals in a long interview centred on the Drumaville takeover at the Stadium of Light in 2006 that he approached ex-Sunderland defender Steve Bould before any other manager.

After Steve Bruce left in 2011, Quinn thought current Fulham boss Felix Magath could have been a suitable replacement had Sunderland been unable to recruit Martin O’Neill.

Quinn says: “It faded for Steve, he left November-time.

“All the August window we had chased Kevin Kuranyi at Schalke. I flew to see Schalke and I met Felix Magath there.

“I always felt he was someone Sunderland could go to, to try to kick on. A couple of years later he ended up at Fulham.

“I left a card but he never called. I met him twice and thought: ‘This fella has something’.’’

l ‘UP There: The North-East, Football, Boom & Bust’ is published by deCoubertin Books, out August 18.