Former Queens Park Rangers manager Ian Holloway believes that Michael Beale should ‘count himself very lucky’ to have landed the Sunderland job.
The 43-year-old was named as Tony Mowbray’s successor earlier this week after the ex-Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers boss was dismissed at the beginning of the month. It followed a run of one win in five games and the Black Cats slipped out of the play-off places as a result.
Mike Dodds took the reins on a temporary basis whilst a replacement was found and recorded back-to-back wins to move back up to sixth. However, defeat against Bristol City last weekend saw Hull City take advantage and Beale will take charge of his first game on Saturday against Coventry City at the Stadium of Light.
His appointment at the Wearsiders came as a relative shock, especially because it was heavily rumoured that they were keen to bring in a new head coach from the continent. Conversations took place with Reims boss Will Still, whilst Elfsborg manager Jimmy Thelin was also interviewed.
Beale has been out of work since October after Scottish giants Rangers decided to wield the axe following their poor start to the new season. He has been linked with a number of roles since, including that of former club QPR shortly after leaving Ibrox. Nobody expected him to land the Sunderland job though, a view echoed by another ex-Hoops manager Ian Holloway. Speaking to Genting Casino, the 60-year-old said;
“I don’t know Michael Beale personally, but I know he has quite a big following and gets good jobs, even if he hasn’t done very well in his previous role. After losing his job in Scotland and ending up with the Sunderland one, he should count himself very lucky.
“I don’t think it’s an upgrade on Tony Mowbray. Tony was doing a fantastic job, he has been consistent and played good football with young squads. I think he’s a fantastic manager and I don’t think the position they were in the league was worthy of him losing the job. It seems strange.
“Does being Gerrard’s assistant make him (Beale) a top manager? I’m not sure.”
Continuing, Holloway believes that Beale is in for a rude awakening at the weekend, tipping Coventry to spoil the party in the North East:
“I like Coventry and think Mark Robins is absolutely brilliant. It’s been hard to follow after reaching the play-offs last year. It will be tough for Beale, I don’t think he’ll be at the club long enough to get a victory and he won’t get the bounce.
“Sunderland 0-2 Coventry.”
It’s a game which could prove to be pivotal heading into the holiday schedule, with a trip to the MKM Stadium to face fellow promotion contenders Hull scheduled for Boxing Day.
Sunderland fans were not particularly blown away by Michael Beale’s appointment and it won’t take them long to make their feelings known if he doesn’t get off to a good start at the Stadium of Light. Tony Mowbray was a popular figure and many believed he was the right man to attempt to guide them back to the Premier League, at least for this season.
It’s important that the new manager gets off the ground running because a couple of defeats over the course of the next week could see them lose touch with those currently occupying the play-off places. There is still a long way to go this season though, but Hull are already three points clear and that could extend considerably by the time the full time whistle is blown in Humberside next Tuesday.