Football Expert & Columnist
Time for change
Jamie Redknapp says Steve Bruce was given enough time to succeed as Sunderland boss.
Last Updated: 02/12/11 3:02pm
When the fans of a football club turn on you as a manager, your position inevitably becomes untenable.
Steve Bruce was a warrior as a player and a really decent guy, so it's disappointing to see him get sacked. But he has had time to build his own team and unfortunately it just hasn't worked out for him. Two wins in 15 games at home in 2011 just isn't good enough.
I don't know Ellis Short but he seems to be quite a reasonable chairman. In fact, we're more than three months into the season before the first sacking so maybe everyone's showing a bit more common sense. But it gets to a stage sometimes where - with the transfer window just around the corner - owners think if they don't make a change now, they'll end up in a relegation battle.
At the moment there are two outstanding candidates for the Sunderland job; Mark Hughes and Martin O'Neill. But there are a lot more managers in jobs right now who are under pressure. So what happens if Steve Kean gets sacked tomorrow and Mark Hughes takes the job? You've got one less available manager to pick from. It's all hypothetical, of course, but that is how chairmen and the guys making decisions at the top have to think.
Losing players like Darren Bent, Danny Welbeck and Asamoah Gyan hasn't helped Steve's cause, but he has had a lot of money to spend and it just hasn't gelled.
If Bent was still there I think they would be in a better position because there problems have been in attack. Stephane Sessegnon hasn't been in the goals and Connor Wickham - who I think will be a good player - has been unlucky with injuries. Goals have really been hard to come and that is the problem.
The most important thing for Sunderland now is to get in a high-profile manager because they are a big club. I've always enjoyed going up to the Stadium of Light. As a player you can feel when you're playing against a big club and that's definitely the case up there.
The crowd always get behind the team and that part of the world is a football hotbed, so they do deserve success, but it's important they get the right man now. And if it were to be Mark Hughes or Martin O'Neill, I certainly wouldn't be complaining as a Sunderland fan.
The first job of whoever goes in will be to lift the confidence of the players, because that is such an important part of football. You look at Chelsea at the moment and they are a classic example of a team playing without any confidence - and it shows.
Theoretically you should be playing every home game full of confidence because the crowd are behind you. But if you're playing in front of your fans feeling like they're against you; believe me it's so, so difficult.
I had it at different times in my career, including at Liverpool. It's not a case of the crowd turning on you, but you just felt like you had 20 minutes to do something or you'll start hearing the moans and the groans. Certain players can handle that, but others can't.
So they will need to work on that confidence and a new manager will bring that. There will probably be players who were out of the equation with Steve Bruce, but who will have an opportunity now, as well. Everyone starts on a level playing field.
And that level playing field starts on Sunday against Wolves where there's another manager under pressure. I'll be at the game working on Super Sunday and you get the impression all the focus will be on Mick McCarthy now.
Like Steve, he's had time to build his own team and has spent a decent amount of money in the transfer market. They stayed up by the skin of their teeth last year and I'm sure the owners will want a better season.
He'll be hoping that Sunderland haven't appointed a new manager by Sunday because that would lift the players' confidence. I don't know why they always give an extra 10 or 20 per cent whenever someone new comes in, but that's just the way football is.
Sections of the fans at Molineux have voiced their dissatisfaction at results this season, too and I feared for Mick when he hit back at them because when you start to fight back that usually means the end. But to be fair to Wolves fans, it was only a minority I think, and they've come back and picked up a couple of decent results since then.
They were poor against Chelsea last week, though and that game should have lifted a few of the clouds hovering over Stamford Bridge and Andre Villas-Boas... but then they went and lost to Liverpool in the Carling Cup.
There's no doubt Villas-Boas is under pressure but, unlike Steve Bruce and Mick McCarthy, he hasn't had the chance to build his own team. I've always believed that if you're going to sack a manager, you should at least have given him time to buy some players and given them time to gel.
He hasn't been helped by the fact that Fernando Torres is having a complete nightmare at the moment, but there is no way he is going to build confidence without playing, either. He looked to me like he was starting to find a bit of form and then he got left out before the Liverpool game and I thought 'what are you trying to do to him?'
It's very difficult for a manager to say to a player 'you're going to start the next 10 games no matter what' but I think that's what he needs. I can't see him turning his Chelsea career around without that, and it really wouldn't surprise me if Chelsea decided to cash in on him this summer and sell him to a club with big money like Malaga.
It's another test for Villas-Boas and it will be interesting to see how it handles it, but he's got to deal with a tough trip to Newcastle first. They're unbeaten at home this season and they will be absolutely flying after drawing with Manchester United last weekend.
It's the kind of game that could be a season changer for Chelsea, if they win, and that would ease a lot of pressure off Villas-Boas. Unfortunately for him and Chelsea, I can't see Newcastle getting beat here.Click on the video to see Jamie's preview and preditction for Saturday's game.