There’s no two ways about it – Sunderland’s recent form has been shocking. A battering from an Aston Villa side that has struggled to hit a barn door saw the Black Cats roundly mocked for their brand of no touch football. Worse still for Gus Poyet, it saw the Argentine boss lose his job at the Stadium Of Light as the Black Cats took their place among the favourites to go down.
Up steps globe-trotter boss Dick Advocaat, who has clocked up more air miles than Judith Chalmers. The latest Dutch manager to ply his trade in the Premier League has experience at both club and international level, but can he keep Sunderland, who are currently 17th and just a point above the relegation zone, in the Premier League?
After time coaching an amateur Saturday football side, Advocaat became assistant to the Dutch national team in 1984. He also managed HFC Haarlem before moving to SVV winning promotion to the Eredivisie division.
It was with SVV that he fought a relegation battle that will come into good use now he’s at Sunderland. His side had to win a relegation play-off to stay in the top division, and did so. However, it was during this time that Advocaat started to be criticised for his defensive style of play.
In 1992, Advocaat became manager of the Dutch national side and promptly fell out with Ruud Gullit in an argument over tactics during a World Cup qualifier against England. He led the Dutch to the World Cup quarter finals in 1994 and then returned to club football with PSV winning the Eredivisie title in 1997.
The Dutchman may only have been appointed until the end of the season, but that’s probably something that will suit him. He’s not someone who stays at a club for all that long and a year after winning that title in Holland, he left PSV and joined Rangers where he won the domestic treble in his first campaign, partly due to spending a fortune, expenditure that many think led to Rangers subsequent financial problems. More titles followed the following season, but then Celtic got the upper hand and the manager labelled some of his players “fat-necks”.
Return to national duty
Advocaat replaced Louis van Gaal as manager of the Dutch national team in 2002 and again spent a fair amount of time arguing with his players and baffling pundits with his tactics. He lasted two years as manager before quitting and spending just a few months in Germany with Borussia Monchengladbach. Since then he’s been globe-trotting, managing the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Belgium, Russia and Serbia.
Advocaat achieves a decent level of success, but the fact is he has never managed in the Premier League and has just nine games to keep Sunderland in the Premier League.
A look at their fixture list gives the new manager mixed news. Away games at Stoke, Everton and, more worryingly, Arsenal and Chelsea don’t look matches that will bring in a stack of points. It’s at the Stadium of Light where Sunderland have their best chance of staying in the Premier League. A derby against Newcastle is followed by the visit of Crystal Palace, Southampton and Leicester City.
Advocaat has to get to know his players quickly and a better gauge of their survival hopes should be known in early April. Home games against Newcastle and Crystal Palace on the 5th and 11th are vital for Sunderland. At least four points and they might be able to breathe a bit easier, anything less and the new man might finally learn what it’s like to be relegated.