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Facing a couple of 6 pointer's could be the turning point? - 14/10/2002

Facing a couple of 6 pointer's could be the turning point?
The Pressure is on!
   Howard Wilkinson
   Peter Reid

As the international matches have meant a break in the Premiership season, I took the opportunity to spend a few days with the family at Euro Disney. Of course you’re never far away from football news, even if you’re in a different county, so when I heard that Peter Reid had been sacked and then replaced by Howard Wilkinson, it's fair to sy I was a little taken aback.

Any Sunderland manager, no matter who they were would be the recipient for a far degree of stick from the great majority of Newcastle fans. However, I had and have a great deal of respect for Peter Reid, and it’s interesting to hear that – now he’s gone, a few of our fans didn’t think he was such a bad guy after all! One things for sure, he loves his football played with passion...and I don’t know any Geordies who’d disagree.

Replacing him with Howard Wilkinson and Steve Cotterill is certainly a bold move by the Sunderland board. They’ll have known that the fans would have wanted a big name. They obviously have faith in the partnership because they know they’re on a hiding to nothing. Wilkinson has been out of the limelight for so long and Steve Cotterill is very much an inexperienced manager, albeit with an impressive CV. Looking at the partnership of youth and experience, I think they’re a long term appointment – something that is creditable. They do have an advantage in that they’ve inherited a strong Sunderland squad. Peter Reid mentioned this the other day – which puts a bit of pressure on the new managers, but he’s right! They’ve got quality players and a good blend of youth and experience. Admittedly a few are under performing, but that’s a confidence thing. It’s a cliché, but class is permanent, form is temporary.

The Sunderland crowd have a big part to play. They are going to need patience, and I’m not sure if they’re got enough? A couple of poor results in the next few games may see the crowd turn on the players. This would be a disaster as the Stadium of Light should be a positive factor for the club. If that turns to a negative then it’s going to be a hell of an uphill struggle for the players. If you look at their fixture list you’ll find they play the next three games against clubs that are also struggling or not on form. Now if they get the results – then fantastic. But if they don’t, and the fans turn, then it’s big problems. I think if they had to play Arsenal, Liverpool and Man Utd in the next three games then the pressure would be off. Facing a couple of six-pointers could be the turning point of their whole season.

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