Lee Clark believes “top class” Chris Coleman could emulate another of his old managers – Peter Reid – at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland are entrenched in relegation trouble ahead of Coleman’s fourth game in charge of Sunderland at Wolves today.
The Black Cats are two points from safety and 21 from the last play-off spot but Clark, who Coleman played with and managed at Fulham, insists the type of revival he experienced under Reid in 1997-98, which ended with a Wembley play-off final, is not beyond the new boss.
And Clark is convinced Sunderland fans will forge as strong a bond with Coleman as they did with the fiery Reid.
“He is very similar to Peter in many aspects of his management,” said Clark, who captained Fulham under Coleman between 2003 and 2005.
“He gets the best out of the players; he gets the group together and brings the whole club together, so I think it is a terrific appointment.
“They both know when it is time to encourage, when to show their displeasure – they can do it on an individual basis, they can do it on a group basis.”
While acknowledging survival is the priority, Clark suspects Coleman may be looking for more despite having less time to make up more ground than Reid did when he steered his side from 14th in the old Division One in October ’97 to a third-place finish.
Clark added: “The short-term goal for Chris and his players will be to put a string of good results together to get them out of the predicament they are currently in.
“If they start pulling away they will get away from some of the negativity and they can look upwards from there. If early in the New Year they have achieved that, then who knows?
“There have been teams in similar positions to Sunderland in the past who have gone on to make the top six and then been successful in the play-offs. I’m not saying that will happen, but it has been done.
“The first job, though, is to get out of the position they are currently in and make sure that once Chris has had time to recruit his own players and make the necessary changes, the club are at least still in the Championship.”
Crucially, Clark believes Coleman also has a perfect blend of relative youth and old-school managerial nous to handle the huge task of resurrecting Sunderland’s fortunes on a shoestring budget.
“Wherever he has been, he seems to galvanise,” added Clark.
“Fans start to see a bit of a structure; they see light at the end of the tunnel and start really getting behind the team.
“He is very, very experienced. Even though he is still quite young in management terms he has managed international teams, he has managed abroad, he has managed in the Premier League and Championship.
“He has got a lot of experience. But having spoken to him, his enthusiasm for the job is the thing that stands out above all else.”