Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Will It Be Third Time Lucky for the Cats? Bain Must Hope So; THE AGENDA: Why Wearmen's Chief Executive Is under Pressure to Find the Right Man Simon Grayson's Replacement Will Be Martin Bain's Third Appointment. Stuart Rayner Says Sunderland's Chief Executive Needs to Chose the Right Man from a Drawn-Out Process

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Will It Be Third Time Lucky for the Cats? Bain Must Hope So; THE AGENDA: Why Wearmen's Chief Executive Is under Pressure to Find the Right Man Simon Grayson's Replacement Will Be Martin Bain's Third Appointment. Stuart Rayner Says Sunderland's Chief Executive Needs to Chose the Right Man from a Drawn-Out Process

Article excerpt

MARTIN Bain is playing a dangerous game in his search for Sunderland's next manager - and no one is more at risk than he is.

If the chief executive makes the right choice, even if it takes a long time, all well and good - but lots of good managers who appeared sound appointments have failed at the Stadium of Light in recent years, so it is far from guaranteed.

Bain has been spinning plates and yesterday the Michael O'Neill plate smashed, the Northern Ireland manager ruling himself out of the running.

Sunderland are at great pains to point out they did not offer the job to the Northern Ireland manager but stretching the process into the second week of the international break was much easier to justify if they landed a manager who was not available before it. In practice the new favourite, Chris Coleman, was.

Bain's first gamble has already backfired. He was very hasty in firing Simon Grayson, given his marching orders a quarter of an hour after the 3-3 Hallowe'en draw with Bolton.

Then you thought you could see some logic - but the longer it has gone on the more flawed it has looked.

With the trigger pulled so quickly, you assumed a replacement was lined up - goodbye Simon one night, hello successor the next day, all very West Ham United.

Failing that, the appointment of a caretaker for the weekend's derby at Middlesbrough would provide a temporary lift and give Bain a headstart to find Grayson's replacement during the fortnight's international break - hopefully with time to prepare his new charges for Saturday's home game against Millwall.

That has not happened either.

Robbie Stockdale and Billy McKinlay's batten-down-the-hatches tactics left Sunderland looking inhibited, not liberated at the Riverside, and last week McKinlay joined David Moyes' coaching staff of equals at the London Stadium.

With Aitor Karanka, a high-maintenance but successful Championship manager, seemingly dropping off the radar or at least pushed to its outer edge it apparently boiled down to the proven quantity, the safe option, the star name and then, when he withdrew, the late arrival.

Bain at least did not fall into the trap he did last summer, approaching Aberdeen for permission to speak to Derek McInnes, only for the Scot to say thanks, but no thanks.

With his standing among Sunderland supporters so low, Bain cannot really afford for that to happen again.

It was not just O'Neill he had to worry about. Paul Heckingbottom also has a track record of extracting the maximum from unglamorous players but, unlike O'Neill, his emerged in the Championship. His history of developing young players - John Stones, Alfie Mawson and Mason Holgate are on his CV - means big Premier League clubs have been happy to loan players to Barnsley, which would come in handy at cashstrapped Sunderland. …

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