Ball throws his name into the Sunderland hat

by Back Page Football

Kevin Ball SunderlandSunderland caretaker manager, Kevin Ball, has made it clear he is eager to be given the job as Paolo Di Canio’s permanent successor at the Stadium of Light. Ball was asked to step into the role on an interim basis following the sacking of the Italian, overseeing the Black Cats to a 2-0 Capital Cup victory over League One’s Peterborough.

While anybody who has looked at the football betting odds since the beginning of the campaign will have noticed that Di Canio was fairly heavily backed to be the first Premier League manager to be sacked this season, that’s not to say the decision by Sunderland owner, Ellis Short, has gone down well with all the Black Cats supporters.

After signing 15 players during the summer, the decision to fire Di Canio so soon into the new Premier League season has more than a hint of knee-jerk about it.

There is no denying the fact that the Italian coach was not everybody’s cup of tea. Former MP, David Milliband, famously stepped down from his position on the club’s board over Di Canio’s alleged political views, not to mention the Italian’s colourful football career.

However, after spending so much energy convincing fans that Di Canio was the right choice to replace Martin O’Neill, sacking him after just five games of the new season has left many Sunderland fans perplexed.

With former Chelsea trio, Gus Poyet, Gianfranco Zola, and Roberto Di Matteo all linked with the Sunderland job in the live football commentary, there looks to be a chance that Short could be tempted to go with another foreign coach as his new manager.

But, in Kevin Ball, the Sunderland owner has someone who the fans know and respect from his nine-year playing career with the club and his long spell at the club in a coaching capacity – not to mention his previous spell as caretaker boss back in 2006. Hiring Ball could help heal some of the wounds that have opened between the club’s owners and the supporters over the past couple of months.

And after spending so long at the club over the years, Ball admitted after his first game as interim boss that he would be extremely keen to take the job on a full time basis if offered the role by Sunderland.

“Anybody who is anybody would like to be considered for it. In the sense of what I have done as a coach or a player and not only that, my qualifications I have gone out and got as a coach, I would like to be considered.”

“But ultimately, that’s the club’s decision and I would go with that, whether it,” admitted Ball.

But, whoever takes over from Di Canio has one hell of a job on their hands to stamp their authority over a squad that has almost been entirely made up of signings made by the enigmatic Italian. However, that’s not to say there isn’t more than enough quality in the group for the new manager to be able to come in and start getting some encouraging results.

Even at this early stage in the campaign, however, Sunderland will know the importance of getting points on the board as soon as possible to ensure they don’t have to start worrying about a relegation battle even before Christmas comes around.

The Black Cats are spared the ignominy of the favourite spot in the relegation odds by the presence of the 1/3 Crystal Palace but, with Sunderland facing fixtures against Manchester United and Liverpool, the side needs to restructure quickly to make the most of the 2013/14 season.

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