Higginbotham played for both Sunderland and Stoke, and he has told the Chronicle that he is keen to see the Black Cats take advice from their Premier League rivals as they attempt to stay in the Premier League.
“It is not sustainable when you keep making those [managerial] changes,” said Higginbotham. “You can’t have a manager keep coming in, not fancying the players he’s got and then bringing in more new players.
“Just look at Stoke. For their first five years in the Premier League, they had the same manager (Pulis) and then they’ve had Mark Hughes since. All the teams that have success and continue to stay in the Premier League are those who have a manager there for the long term.”
Even in Stoke’s debut Premier League season, there was never a sense that they were going to be relegated from the Premier League, and since then they have become a side considered as a top flight regular, rather than a small club punching above their weight.
Every year is about how high they can finish, rather than if they can avoid relegation, but the same cannot be said of Sunderland.
Even after their long-term stay in the top-flight, it seems they are just a few games away from collapsing out of the division, and there is something to be said for the consistency of their poor form.
Managerial changes would certainly play a key factor in this consistent poorness, and Stoke’s desire to stay with Tony Pulis for as long as they did should be applauded. They reaped the benefits of his managerial career, and, after doing the same with Mark Hughes, he is impressing.
No Black Cats manager has been given this time to impress, with Paolo Di Canio and Gus Poyet failing to see out a year in charge. It is likely that Dick Advocaat will be leaving the club this summer, meaning that another new head coach will have to be appointed, and, once again, the continuity is broken.
Sunderland have a long way to go before they can match the continuity shown by Stoke over the last decade, and the first step to finding that should be appointing a manager who remains at the Stadium of Light for more than one season.