South Shields chairman explains why Kevin Phillips' appointment could mean greater links with Sunderland

South Shields chairman Geoff Thompson says new manager Kevin Phillips demonstrated all the qualities he was looking for during the club’s recruitment process.

Former Sunderland striker Phillips has replaced Graham Fenton at 1st Cloud Arena, after the latter was relieved of his duties following a five-and-a-half-year spell at the club.

“When I decided to make the difficult decision about Graham, I was then thinking what process we might follow to find a replacement,” explained Thompson.

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“There is the obvious much more formal process of putting it out there and applicants apply. That was one train of thought that we would run a much more formal process and see who might pop up and apply for the position.

South Shields chairman Geoff Thompson. Picture by FRANK REID

“Of course I knew of Kevin and obviously he has an international, national and regional reputation.

“I had the opportunity to have some conversations with him quite early on in terms of my own thinking about Graham’s replacement.

“Kevin and I had some very positive discussions, I spoke to him about what we want to achieve here and he came across incredibly well and very positive.”

Phillips has openly put his name forward for managers jobs in the past, most notably at Sunderland, but hasn’t been given an opportunity due to his lack of experience.

Still, Thomson was immediately encouraged by their early discussions regarding the manager’s position.

“He talks a lot about management style, getting the best out of players and supporting players,” Thompson added.

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“There was a really positive set of comments that really resonated with me about how he wants to do the job as well as the conduct and behaviour he wants to demonstrate.

“Timing is everything in life, he was available, we had a need, we got on. He said all the right things and is demonstrating the right behaviours.

“He is going to be supported heavily by the lads who are here already so he’s not going to be alone.

“For all of those reasons it was right just to seize the moment and I took the decision to offer him the job.”

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Phillips’ connection with Sunderland should also bring advantages, and the Marriers’ new boss spoke with Black Cats boss Lee Johnson before taking the South Shields job.

Talks have also been held between South Shields Chief Executive Lee Picton and Sunderland’s Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakmann.

“We have already been talking,” replied Thompson when asked about the club’s links with Sunderland and potentially signing players on loan.

“Lee Picton and one of our non-executive directors have already started taking with Sunderland, particularly the Sporting Director,”

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“We have meetings that have already taken place and are scheduled to continue, so the two clubs are already forging even greater links together.

“I think Kevin’s arrival is just going to enable that even more really.

“For example Lee is meeting Kristjaan next week and undoubtedly he will be taking Kevin along.

“I think the two clubs will cement what is already a very good relationship and cement that even further.

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“I’d like to think we can do the same at Newcastle and elsewhere.”

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