Sunderland Managerial Target Hits Out At The Media Over Links

Reims manager Will Still has hit out at the French media for claiming he was keen on a move to Championship outfit Sunderland.

The 31-year-old has rose to prominence over the past couple of years, thanks in part to the stunning job he has done with the Ligue 1 side. Taking over on a caretaker basis in October 2022, Still was handed the reins on a permanent basis shortly after, despite not holding the relevant qualifications to do so.

As a result, Reims were fined €25,000 for each game in which he took charge, but it was deemed worth it after guiding the club to an 11th placed finish in his debut campaign. This season has started even better, where the young manager has his team currently sitting in eighth and challenging for an unlikely European spot.

It’s this form which saw him installed as favourite to replace Tony Mowbray at the Stadium of Light following the 60-year-old’s dismissal at the beginning of the month. It was even claimed that owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus had held positive talks with Still, who in turn was considering a move to the Wearsiders.

Reports from France stated that a move was difficult however, with Reims due considerable compensation should their man depart the club mid-season. Conflicting reports emerged surrounding the details, with one publication saying that he would be free to leave in the summer for nothing.

After back-to-back defeats, Still returned to winning ways on Wednesday with a 1-0 win over Le Havre and he has since addressed the rumours linking him to Sunderland. Speaking to Gazete van Antwerpenvia Sport Witnessthe ex-Beerschot manager said:

“I don’t know which French-language newspaper made up that story, but it certainly tarnished my image.

“Now I know journalists can make or break you. The article was also quickly adopted in England. Suddenly I was in all the tabloids. Everyone thought I had offered myself to Sunderland. I wasn’t being honest, so to speak. And not to be trusted. But I would never offer myself to another club.

“I’m not wired like that. I have too much respect for the people I work with for that. It’s a shame the story was blown up so much.

“I didn’t even know that clause (allowing him to leave for €5m) was in my contract until last week. Perhaps that is why Sunderland put some pressure on certain media? Was it an attempt to get me out of here for free? I don’t know.

“I’m not interested in it either. But it does frustrate me. Because now it seems like I’ve become arrogant. Or started floating (in the clouds). But that is absolutely not the case. I am still the same Will as I was at Lierse or Beerschot.”

Sunderland have since turned to former QPR and Rangers manager Michael Beale and the 43-year-old will take charge of his first game tomorrow against Plymouth Argyle at Home Park.

Writer’s View

This is a subject which Will Still clearly feels strongly about. It is a hell of a claim to say that Sunderland were putting pressure on the media, hinting that they were leaking details to try and force through the move.

At 31-years-old, the time will surely come for him to be given a chance at a ‘bigger’ club, although the Black Cats won’t look favourably at these comments. This is a bridge he may have burnt should the position become available again in the future.

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