Next Sunderland manager: Will Still, Kieran McKenna in frame as Black Cats enter new era

Will Still, Kieran McKenna, Sunderland

Managers Will Still and Kieran McKenna either side of the Sunderland badge

Will Still and Kieran McKenna are among the candidates that Sunderland have got on their shortlist for the now-vacant head coach position, sources have told TEAMtalk.

Still, the 31-year-old Belgian-English manager of Reims in Ligue 1, has won rave reviews since being appointed initially on a caretaker basis in October 2022 before winning the job full-time.

He was doing such a good job in the initial stages of his tenure that the club were happy to pay £22,000 every game that he managed while he worked towards getting his UEFA Pro Licence.

McKenna, meanwhile, has been in charge of Ipswich Town since December 2021, having departed Manchester United where he worked as first-team coach under Jose Mourinho among others.

The Tractor Boys are currently second in the Championship table, only one point behind relegated Leicester City, and are the division’s top scorers.

Tony Mowbray was sacked as Sunderland manager on Monday (December 4) with the Black Cats sitting ninth in the Championship and three points off the playoff places.

However, the side were without a win in their previous three matches with the axe falling on Mowbray following Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Millwall.

He had been in charge at the Stadium of Light since August 30, 2022 after Alex Neil’s walkout.

Mowbray took Sunderland to the Championship playoffs last season where they were eliminated by Luton Town at the semi-final stage.

The manager earned acclaim for getting the best out of some of the young talents at his disposal but recent comments suggested a rift between the head coach and those in charge at the club.

It has been reported that Mowbray was at odds with sporting director Kristjaan Speakman over player recruitment, with the club eager to sign emerging talent in the expectation of selling them on at a profit with Mowbray having to maintain results under that structure.

Sunderland ready for new era

Sunderland intend to go in a new direction with their next coaching appointment and the age profiles of Still and McKenna – both in their 30s – match that vision.

The club were close to appointing Francesco Farioli, 31, before he was given the Nice job over summer. The Italian has since led Nice to second in Ligue 1, behind only Paris Saint-Germain.

We can also reveal that former Leeds, Middlesbrough and Cardiff defender Sol Bamba is under consideration at the Stadium of Light too.

The 38-year-old, who made 426 appearances during a nomadic career, is looking to cut his teeth in management. Bamba recently spent time as assistant manager at Cardiff City.

Mike Dodds, meanwhile, has been appointed caretaker at Sunderland until a permanent successor to Mowbray is sourced.

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