Why hiring former Derby manager Nigel Clough could be an inspired move for Sunderland

Sunderland Gates

Sunderland should appoint former Derby County and Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough.

According to fresh reports in The Sun, Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat is set to walk away from the club following a poor start to the season.

It has become somewhat of a repetitive cycle for the Black Cats – a manager gets hired, saves the club from relegation, signs a new long-term deal and receives his marching orders soon after.

The riches and financial benefits of being in the Premier League mean that the club’s objectives are seemingly always the short-term of staying up, and their recruitment reflects that.

Instead of buying young players and developing them in a system, the North East outfit have far too often bought experienced professionals on that final contract with sole the purpose of helping them avoid relegation.

Since their return to the Premier League from the Championship, Sunderland have managed just three times to claim over 40 points – the very definition of a struggling top-flight club.

With Advocaat all but set to leave, the usual names have propped up with Sam Allardyce a leading a contender. The former West Ham United manager will probably keep them up… job done.

But surely the Black Cats want to grow as a club, progress with a young squad playing a decent brand of football with the added bonus of avoiding the drop.

He may not be a household name in his own right, but one man perfect for such a job is former Burton Albion, Derby County and Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough.

Son of Sunderland-born hero Brian Clough, he has all the attributes needed for where Sunderland want to go and there aren’t many managers better in the country at doing what he does.

Clough took Burton into the football league on a shoe-string budget, bettering his previous season’s finishing spot in a number of consecutive seasons which showed real progress.

He joined a Derby side loaded with poor players on big wages, tasked with more than halving the wage bill while keeping a demoralised team in the Championship following their ill-fated reign under Paul Jewell.

Most other managers wouldn’t have taken such a rabble on, others would and would have most certainly taken Derby down to League One whereas a few more would have tried to spend their way out of trouble.

Clough didn’t. He got rid of the deadwood, brought in talented young players from the lower leagues and Scotland, and improved Derby steadily, season upon season earning more points than in the previous campaigns.

When Steve McClaren took over in the 2013/14 season, he inherited a squad with one of the lowest wage bills in the league and the core players who helped take the Rams to the brink of promotion.

The former Nottingham Forest striker may not have a particularly outstanding win percentage record, but he is perfect for a Premier League Sunderland in more sense than one.

Arsene Wenger aside, not many are better at building football clubs than Clough and considering Sunderland’s current position, he is exactly the type of manager they need to hire now.

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