Today a selection of reactions from the local and national press to the departure of Mick McCarthy as manager of SAFC.
McCarthy has paid the price for a dreadful Premiership campaign.
Sunderland Supporters Club chairman George Forster said: “It’s players that get managers the sack – players and their performances. They haven’t been up to Premiership standard. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”
Gary Bennett said: “It’s a Catch 22 situation. You can keep firing the manager but if there’s no funds to build the team are you just going to get rid of him?”
Charlie Hurley said: “Mick’s biggest problem was that Chelsea and people like that have got bags and bags of money and we couldn’t afford to buy the players Mick would have liked to have got.”
That McCarthy was not hated by fans arguably has more to do with the supporters’ disdain for chairman Bob Murray than an admiration for him.
For supporters who attach great importance to honest hard work, McCarthy’s efforts were not revered, but they were appreciated.
McCarthy’s moulding of his new, inexperienced side into Championship champions remains a remarkable achievement.
With just over £4m to spend, plus an increased wage budget, McCarthy will maintain that he did the best he could.
Pressure was growing on Wearside last night for Sunderland’s chairman Bob Murray to follow Mick McCarthy out of the club.
It is understood McCarthy had received private reassurances from the board that his future would not be discussed until the end of the season, until the success of Glenn Roeder prompted Sunderland to turn to Ball in the hope he will have a similar effect.
£10m was spent on 12 players including a combined £2.9m on Andy Gray and Jon Stead, from Sheffield United and Blackburn respectively, who have contributed one goal between them all season. Wigan and West Ham, who finished seven and 21 points behind Sunderland respectively last May, are now challenging for European qualification.
In December 1995 when he took his Millwall side, then top of the First Division, to Roker Park. Millwall lost 6-0 that day. Five months later they were relegated. By then, McCarthy had become manager of the Republic of Ireland.
Roy Keane claimed McCarthy was “a bluffer”, who talked a good game, but fell well short when it came to management at the highest level. McCarthy’s Premiership record would appear to prove Keane’s argument.
Sunderland, a city whose football club is at the centre of life on Wearside, could perhaps stomach relegation but not this drip of week in, week out humiliation.
The dismissal will not lessen the outpouring of bile against Murray, whose decision-making may have suffered because he is too close to his managers. He went on holiday with Peter Reid, dismissing him over a bottle of champagne, and considered McCarthy a friend. Freddy Shepherd has sacked four managers and was barely on speaking terms with any of them.
The Irishman went with a smile on his face, sacked for leaving the club where he found it, bottom of the Premiership. It seems that in management, consistency is simply not enough these days.
McCarthy made a decent Championship manager, winning 51 of his 92 games outside the top flight and earning the League title last year. However, two victories in 37 Premiership games sealed his demise.
By general consensus, in his attempts to steer a path to safety this season, McCarthy apportioned modest funds unwisely. Jon Stead, Anthony Le Tallec and Andy Gray, all brought in to score goals, have done anything but.
The club’s board want Niall Quinn to work in tandem with new caretaker boss Kevin Ball. Under-fire chairman Bob Murray hopes the appointment of two such popular old boys would relieve some of the mounting pressure on him.
The problem for him now is he has never gained his coaching badges and has done media work while considering a career in politics.
Quinn said, “One of the reasons I’ve not gone into management is the need to go on coaching courses. Did Brian Clough need to be taught? A coaching qualification should have the status of a first-aid badge — useful but not an entire philosophy.”
MICK McCarthy’s last act as Sunderland boss was to deny he was getting the sack. Just 18 hours later it proved to be McCarthy’s final bad call of a disastrous season.
The axe came two months after he had been being put on an uneasy probation by Murray – given his chairman’s vote of confidence, but ordered to make a fight of their relegation struggle, or else.
It was individual errors, a hopelessly disorganised defence, strikers who can’t score and a manager who couldn’t instil the basics at the top level, that has turned Sunderland into Premiership’s worst side ever. Not a season of bad luck.
The promise is to find an “inspirational” leader that will capture the imagination.
Murray will now find himself in the heat of the storm. Howard Wilkinson yesterday suggested he and the board should pay the ultimate price for their lack of strategy.
With Bob Murray, the chairman, prepared to relinquish his role at the first appropriate opportunity, there is little appetite to rush the task of finding a long-term successor to Mick McCarthy.
The club cannot afford to enter the summer in a state of depression. They have also bought some time in which to consider their options.
No managerial shortlist has been drawn up and the job has been offered to no one.