Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Why the New Boss Will Have to Adapt Fast at Sunderland; THE AGENDA: The Priorities for Sunderland's New Man at the Helm Chris Coleman Is about to Walk into a Difficult Job at the Stadium of Light with Little Time to Find His Feet. Stuart Rayner Looks at the Main Issues He Will Be Facing

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Why the New Boss Will Have to Adapt Fast at Sunderland; THE AGENDA: The Priorities for Sunderland's New Man at the Helm Chris Coleman Is about to Walk into a Difficult Job at the Stadium of Light with Little Time to Find His Feet. Stuart Rayner Looks at the Main Issues He Will Be Facing

Article excerpt

CHRIS Coleman is expected to be appointed as Sunderland's new manager tomorrow, and he will have to hit the ground running in his new job.

The Black Cats travel to Aston Villa on Tuesday, then Burton Albion at the weekend, and with a third of the season already gone, they can ill afford to waste time in turning their poor form around. Coleman inherits a team bottom of the Championship, with just ten points to their name.

Being away from home twice will at least give him time to potentially build a modicum of momentum and dispel any doubts about his club record before playing in front of the Stadium of Light, something the Black Cats have struggled badly with all year.

Coleman will hopefully have done a bit of homework before taking the job, although with two internationals to negotiate during the fortnight's break, he will not have been able to squeeze that much in.

With a home game against Millwall today, Sunderland's new manager has no time to lose as he looks to turn around a team who are bottom of the Championship, and on the floor mentally.

His in tray will be full to bursting, but what are the main priorities he has to get to grips with to make a success of life at the Stadium of Light? Here we look at five issues which will be key to turning around the prospects of a club which has been on a downward spiral for too long.

GET THE FANS ONSIDE THE absolute top priority. When a busy Stadium of Light is urging Sunderland's players on to better things it can be worth a few points to the team over the course of the season, but when it is shorn of all belief as it is now, it can drag the weak players currently in the Black Cats' squad down with them.

It is for this reason as much as any that Sunderland cannot win at home even when they play better than their opposition.

Getting the fans believing again is highly important to Coleman as it will make his job far easier.

SORT THE DEFENCE OUT UNDER Simon Grayson, Sunderland conceded 30 goals in 15 Championship games. In anyone's book, that is relegation form.

It is incredible to think that they are the only club not to have kept a Championship clean sheet this season, and that has to change.

Sam Allardyce always preaches the importance of clean sheets, and getting things right at that end of the field was crucial in allowing Jermain Defoe to be a match winner. Lewis Grabban can take on that role in the second tier.

Caretaker managers Robbie Stockdale and Billy McKinlay arguably went too far the other way at Middlesbrough, neutering the Wearsiders' attacking side by verging too far on the side of caution. Striking the balance is all-important, but if the former defender is to err, then initially at least, it is better to go the other way.

Playing less expansive football might not obviously chime with the goal of getting fans onside, but the ship needs to be steadied, and supporters are realistic enough to get behind that. …

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