Late change in management is rarely a change for the better

PREMIER League history, such as it is, shows locking the stable door after the horse has bolted is never a good thing.

PREMIER League history, such as it is, shows locking the stable door after the horse has bolted is never a good thing.

Over the course of their 133 years, Sunderland have a habit of making late-season managerial changes and few have bucked the trend.

Ten times since the new top flight was formed, a club in the relegation zone has sacked its manager – Sunderland and Newcastle United have both done it. All ten have gone down.

The chances are by 6pm on May 12, Reading could be added to that statistic.

At least Paolo Di Canio can rest assured the Black Cats will not make it a dirty dozen – if only because he took over a team a point outside the drop zone.

It is hardly a good advert, though, for owner Ellis Short’s Easter weekend panic measures.

Attilio Lombardo, Peter Shreeves, Terry Burton, Micky Adams, Trevor Brooking, Iain Dowie and Terry Connor were appointed too late to rescue their clubs from the drop.

Only Dowie managed at that level again, some have not taken charge of any club since.

That is the fate which has befallen Kevin Ball since Sunderland and Alan Shearer after Newcastle, although Mick McCarthy was given another chance.

When McCarthy and caretaker Ball were given their jobs, it was under no illusions. They were preparing Sunderland for the Championship, not a miracle. Between them they managed one win in 19 matches.

Bob Stokoe thought he had seven games to save Sunderland from relegation to Division Three in 1987. Thanks to the play-offs he had nine, but it still was not enough.

Peter Reid managed it, winning three and drawing three of his seven games after succeeding Mick Buxton in 1995.

The following year his side won the second tier, starting one of the club’s most successful eras.

Appointed in February, Alan Brown and Terry Butcher had more time to keep the Rokerites up and the buffer of not inheriting a team in the relegation zone. Both made the most of it.

Reid is the only real example of a late change working on Wearside. Can Di Canio be another?

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