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Well, Sunderland are halfway there.

Reports had suggested that the Black Cats wanted a new manager in place before Saturday’s 3pm kick-off against Wigan Athletic and, while that seems unlikely at the time of writing on Friday lunchtime, English football’s sleeping giants have at least found someone to fill another void at the Stadium of Light.

According to The Times, Kristjaan Speakman has said his goodbyes to Birmingham City and will now head north to become Sunderland’s new sporting director.

What If Sam Allardyce Got A Second Chance With England? Football Manager 2021 Experiment

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Speakman made his name as Blues’ academy manager and his fine track record when it comes to unearthing talented youngsters – see Jude Bellingham and Demarai Gray – bodes well for a club who are desperate to make better use of a fine academy system which has been neglected for far too long.

With Speakman seemingly in place, Sunderland will now turn to filling the empty seat in the Stadium of Light dugout. But could the new sporting director be reunited in the north east with a man he worked alongside at St Andrews?

If Speakman has a say, you would expect Pep Clotet to at least enter the discussion.

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As it stands, Sunderland appear to be prioritising managers with League One experience (see Paul Cook) alongside exciting, forward-thinking, youthful tacticians who would, in theory, play a far more attractive, progressive style than the pragmatic Phil Parkinson (see Sol Campbell and Daniel Stendel).

Clotet, a 43-year-old former Oxford United boss who helped introduce a more patient, possession-based approach at Birmingham after taking over from the direct Garry Monk, would therefore appear to tick a lot of boxes.

The Spaniard was also highly regarded among many Oxford supporters during his six-month spell at the Kassam, helping to develop promising youngsters like Kemar Roofe and John Lundstram.

Clotet departed Birmingham in June, meaning the Black Cats would not have to worry about paying any compensation fees. Another plus.

Sunderland appear to have one former Birmingham man in place. Maybe they should consider another.

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