Sunderland turn attention to Coleman after O’Neill rejection

Ex-Fulham coach could use situation to strengthen position with Wales

Chris Coleman: The Football Association of Wales wants to retain him as manager, but he would first need to secure certain commitments. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Reuters

Chris Coleman is the latest international manager on Sunderland's radar after Michael O'Neill rejected their advances.

As his Wales tenure approached a critical juncture, the odds on Coleman taking over the Championship's bottom-placed club were slashed dramatically on Thursday. Yet although Sunderland would be delighted to welcome him as Simon Grayson's successor, and some substantial bets have been placed on the former Fulham manager potentially relocating to Wearside, there is the possibility that Coleman could use the situation to strengthen his position with Wales.

He is scheduled to meet officials from the Football Association of Wales (FAW) on Friday to discuss his future in the aftermath of the country’s failure to qualify for the World Cup finals in Russia next summer.

Hull City

The FAW wants to retain Coleman – who came close to leaving for Hull City last year – but, in order to remain in the post, the national coach would first need to secure certain commitments. He is believed to be seeking new contracts for Ryland Morgans, Wales's head of performance, and Ian Mitchell, the team's psychologist, in addition to increased investment in youth development.


Sunderland have been encouraged by Coleman's previous admissions that he is keen to return to club management at some point, and are making it clear they would welcome him with open arms, but, in the wake of discussions conducted through intermediaries, have now accepted that O'Neill is not interested in discussing their vacancy. Instead the Northern Ireland coach could be set to succeed Gordon Strachan as Scotland manager.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes, meanwhile, hopes everything possible is being done to persuade Chris Coleman to stay on as Wales manager.

“From a purely Welsh perspective, I would want him to stay. Obviously the success he’s had and the impact that he’s had on Welsh football has been remarkable, and clearly everybody in Wales wants that to continue. I’m not privy to why he’s taking so long and obviously Chris will have a view in terms of where he feels his career needs to go.

‘Financial issue’

“But, if it was a financial issue or there were discussions to be had in terms of maybe looking after backroom staff and keeping that group of people together that have had such great success, you’d like to think the FAW would push to keep them and go that extra mile for them because they deserve it.”

Paul Heckingbottom, the Barnsley manager, remains on Sunderland's shortlist and, perhaps tellingly, refused to discuss the situation during his weekly press conference on Thursday.

Meanwhile Ally McCoist, the former Rangers manager and a friend of Martin Bain, Sunderland's chief executive, has been interviewed for the job. McCoist, who once played for the Wearside club, has made it plain he would relish the challenge of attempting to return the club to the Premier League. – Guardian