Sunderland have identified the highly rated Reims manager Will Still as the ideal candidate to replace Tony Mowbray, who was dismissed yesterday, according to The Guardian.
The Black Cats showed their ruthless streak last night when they decided to part company with Mowbray following a run of one win in five Championship fixtures. This has seen them slip to ninth in the table and outside of the play-off places, and the decision looks to have been made with a promotion bid at its core.
It’s been six years since Sunderland held a spot in the Premier League and after four years in League One, the 60-year-old guided the club to the play-offs last year on their return to the second tier. However, they were defeated at the semi-final stage by eventual winners Luton Town.
As a result of the recent drop in form, the Wearsiders are now on the hunt for a new manager and have reportedly set their sights on Will Still, who hit the headlines last year due to his exploits in Ligue 1. The 31-year-old took the reins at Reims last October on an interim basis following the sacking of Oscar Garcia. The new manager bounce saw him remain undefeated in his first five games, leading to him being offered the role on a full-time basis.
The issue with Still’s appointment was that he did not hold the required UEFA Pro licence needed to manage in Europe, meaning the French club were fined a staggering €25,000 for each game in which he took charge. His unbeaten run extended to 17 games and he managed to an impressive 11th-placed finish.
This season has proved even better and they currently sit in fifth place and challenging for an unlikely Champions League spot.
It’s this form which has caught the eye of Sunderland, and The Guardian claim that owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus is a big fan of the young coach. However, talkSPORT state that the amount of compensation that Reims would be due could prove to be an issue, having committed to a new two-year contract in June.
Speaking earlier this year, Still admitted that the lure of the Championship would be a tempting one should the opportunity arise:
“Vincent Kompany was at Anderlecht last year and has gone into the Championship and has done an unbelievable job. I think the Championship rivals many of the top leagues in the world. All the doors are open. I’m not closing anything at any time.”
Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna and Nice assistant manager Julien Sablé are also being considered.
It was only a matter of time before an English club started to pay attention to Will Still’s exploits in France and it appears as if Sunderland are willing to make the first move. The Black Cats are targeting a coach who will steer them back to the Premier League, but also with the potential to carve out a long career at the Stadium of Light.
This will be a difficult deal to do, especially with Reims fighting for an unlikely Champions League spot, but Sunderland are one of England’s sleeping giants and the opportunity to make a name for himself in the North East may be too tempting to turn down.