A look at three potential Sunderland manager candidates

Sunderland AFC went into the 2023/24 season very optimistic after finishing 6th last season, however it has been calamitous on and off the pitch.

Tony Mowbray departed the Black Cats in early December with the club in 9th position in the Championship – Mike Dodds then took over in an interim role for three games, winning two matches and losing one before Michael Beale was appointed on December 18th.

The appointment was instantly met with negativity, and Beale was shortly dismissed after just 12 games in the job, including a 3-0 home loss to bitter rivals, Newcastle United. The Sunderland manager position has proved to be a very difficult role, with the club having 11 different permanent managers since 2015.

Below, we look at three potential candidates for the role ahead of the 24/25 season.

Will Still

Will Still is a 31-year-old Belgian manager who has been heavily linked to Sunderland, and it has been announced that he will be a free agent in the summer after leaving Ligue 1 club Reims.

Still took over as caretaker manager in October 2022, and was appointed on a permanent basis after a five-game unbeaten run. This made him the youngest manager in Europe’s top five leagues at just 30 years of age, without the required UEFA Pro license which resulted in Reims paying £21,500 per match.

That season, Reims went on a 19-match unbeaten run which was ended at a 2-1 home loss to Marseille in March 2023.

Still fits the model of Sunderland’s owner, Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, who puts a lot of faith and investment into youth and a team that plays front-footed attacking football – and with Still previously speaking about wanting to return to England, The Championship is something that appeals to him: ‘The Premier League is the dream, but an ambitious Championship club? I’d love that.’ This seems a very exciting and logical appointment.

Rene Maric

Rene Maric is a 31-year-old Austrian coach who is currently serving as the U19s coach of German giants, Bayern Munich.

Maric has spent the bulk of his coaching career in Germany and Austria, at clubs such as RB Salzburg, Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach as long-serving assistant to now RB Leipzig head coach, Marco Rose. However, he has had a short stint of coaching in England as assistant manager to ex-Leeds United head coach, Jesse Marsch.

Maric, a former football analysis writer, could be a potential high-risk, high-reward appointment given he has no experience as a head coach and with the Championship being such a tough league to compete in.

However, RB Leipzig Athletic coach, Patrick Eibenberger, has heaped praise on the young coach: “He can make black and white out of grey areas in a way that I haven’t seen with many others. He can transfer his thoughts from the theoretical side to the playing side no problem. So, while he thinks like he thinks, he can speak the players’ language. He knows what he’s talking about and he can break it down.”

Danny Rohl

Danny Rohl is the head coach of Sheffield Wednesday and the current youngest manager in the EFL at age 35.

Rohl took over at Hillsborough in October 2023 replacing Xisco Munoz, who failed to win any of the 10 league games he had in charge.

He has previously worked closely alongside former Southampton manager Ralph Hassenhuttl, initially as a video analyst at RB Leipzig before being his assistant at Leipzig and Southampton. He then worked with Hansi Flick at both Bayern Munich and the German national team.

He was involved at international level for two years before joining Sheffield Wednesday for his first head coach role. His impact has been massive, as The Owls looked certain to be relegated given they had not yet won a league game and with a lot of off-pitch issues with owner, Dejphon Chansiri.

Since Rohl’s appointment they have picked up 47 points in the league and can confirm safety by avoiding defeat away at potential future club, Sunderland.

Rohl has been linked with Sunderland for next season, and given how well he has done with a squad battling relegation all season – If given a better quality squad Rohl could prove to be a very successful appointment.