Sunderland have had a fair share of underachieving managers in recent times but they also had some promising ones who gave the Black Cats some hope. Sunderland isn’t a club with great expectations every season but it is a club with a mindset of not giving up and has great values and was once among the greatest clubs of England winning 6 First Division/ Premier League titles (Only five clubs have a better record than Sunderland), the last one they won was in 1936.
They won the England second division football league championship in 2005 and 2007 under Mick McCarthy and Roy Keane respectively. They have also finished seventh two seasons in a row around the turn of the millennium and then back in the top half again in 2011. In this article, let us have a look at some of the greatest Sunderland Managers Ever.
Considering success, win percentage, fans’ and critics’ opinion, here are the 5 greatest Sunderland managers ever.
5) Peter Reid
The only coach in the list from the modern Sunderland era. Reid can be considered as the architect of the modern Sunderland FC. The English coach took over the coal cats when they were fighting relegation. At that time, all hope seemed lost and the club was heading to England’s third tier for the second time in their history. But Reid installed a fighting spirit in the team and from there he took them to the second tier and then to fighting for European qualification in the Premier League. He was the manager of the team for 353 games and during that time in Wearside, he managed to maintain an overall winning percentage of 45% and won two Football League First Division championship titles.
4) Bob Stokoe
Bob Stokoe is an English manager who was the in-charge of Sunderland from 1972 to 1976. He joined the club when it was struggling to perform well and win games. But he turned the tables with his arrival by making things simple. Play football and enjoy yourself was his advice. The approach surely worked and during the next thirty-two games, they lost only five. This spell also included the famous 1973 FA Cup Final where Stokoe became a legend. The English manager will always be remembered for that final against Leeds United at the Wembley stadium which they won by 1-0, courtesy of a 32nd-minute goal by Porterfield.
3) Bob Kyle
Bob Kyle was the manager with the greatest number of games in charge of the Rokerites. He was in command of the team for 817 matches over a period of 23 years. His winning percentage in those 817 games was 45.4%, which can be considered a marvelous record because of the copious number of games he managed this win percentage in. Kyle won the Football League First Division championship in 1913 and finished second in 1923. His team was also the runner up in the FA Cup in 1913. He is the only Irish manager ever to win the English top division. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest Sunderland managers ever.
2) Johnny Cochrane
Johnny Cochrane managed Sunderland for a span of eleven years, taking charge of over 500 games with a decent win percentage of 42.4%. The Scot manager helped the club win its first-ever FA Cup in 1936-37, beating Preston North End 3–1 in the final, after almost over 40 years of continuous struggle and coming close to the trophy. It was one of the total two FA cup titles the club has ever won. Sunderland under Cochrane were certainly an entertaining team to watch, his team scored 102 goals on their way to the Football League First Division title of the 1935–36 season.
1) Tom Watson
For a lot of time now debates have been going on about who is Sunderland’s greatest manager. Some would opt for Bob Stokoe, some would say Peter Reid, and some of them would choose others. However, quite a few people will say it’s Tom Watson. And he may well be Sunderland’s greatest ever manager. After the club turned professional in 1886 Tom Watson was appointed as its first-ever manager. In his six seasons spell with the Black Cats, he won 3 league championships in 1892, 1893 and 1895, making him the most successful manager in their history. He also has a staggering win percentage of 62.3%, the record no Sunderland manager has managed to break yet. The team Watson built later became to be known as the ‘team of all talents’.