April 18, 2024

Sunderland could take a huge risk by appointing this Michael Beale replacement.
Even though Sunderland announced that Mike Dodds will be manager until the end of the season following Michael Beale’s firing, the Black Cats gossip mill continues to churn out potential Beale successors for the summer.

It will be a huge choice for the Black Cats board to make, with Dodds potentially in line for the permanent position if he shines in his temporary duties between now and the conclusion of the season.

With Steve Cooper linked to the position, another figure who has tasted promotion to the Premier League is also rumored to be in the race for the Sunderland post.

However, unlike Cooper, this appointment may not be the ideal fit, despite this name’s remarkable unbeaten record versus the Black Cats when occupying the other dugout.

According to TEAMTalk, former Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom will be approached about the Sunderland job, with the 46-year-old manager anxious to get back into the cut and thrust of second-tier football after a disastrous spell with the Blades.

This would be a hazardous option for those linked with the Black Cats, given Heckingbottom leaves South Yorkshire with only one Premier League win from 14 games in charge this season, and the Blades appear destined for an immediate return to the Championship.

Nonetheless, with an automatic promotion to the top flight on his resume – a feat described as “remarkable” by football pundit Carlton Palmer at the time – the Sunderland hierarchy may see Heckingbottom as a potentially successful successor to Beale, regardless of any recent misfires.

Heckingbottom’s managerial record

The 46-year-old manager is undoubtedly divisive, with Barnsley and Leeds United fans scorning their former manager after struggles at Oakwell and Elland Road.

With only four wins in 16 games in command of the Whites, on top of 40 losses with the Tykes, Heckingbottom had to rebuild his wounded managerial career at Bramall Lane.

Heckingbottom would win 51 games for Sheffield United as both a permanent manager and a caretaker, which corresponded with the South Yorkshire club’s comfortable automatic promotion last season before the wheels came off during the transition.

Still, Chris Wilder, Heckingbottom’s immediate replacement, hasn’t fared any better, with the Blades sitting at the bottom of the Premier League standings with 13 points right now.


Sheff Utd boss Paul Heckingbottom: Season means nothing if we're not  promoted | The Independent

Heckingbottom’s emphasis on playing a 3-5-2 formation, which has had varying degrees of success at Bramall Lane, could work at the Stadium of Light away from his numbers as a manager, with Trai Hume flourishing as a wing-back figure.

Furthermore, Heckingbottom has never lost a game as a manager against Sunderland, winning four and drawing one of his five meetings, with the most recent victory coming last year when the Blades won 2-1 away from home.

It would be a significant risk to thrust Heckingbottom into the spotlight at Sunderland, given the job’s reputation for swallowing managers whole and then spitting them back out again, as witnessed with Beale, but his recent promotion-winning status may convince the Black Cats management slightly.

Regardless matter who is chosen as Beale’s successor, it will undoubtedly be an entertaining managerial tale to watch unfold, with Dodds eager to impress now in order to establish his own claim for the permanent position.


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