James Lawton: Same old faces on radar due to lack of a Clough or Revie

Sunderland owner Ellis Short invested in a young Roy Keane who refused to take his calls when things got tricky

Sunderland's enthusiasm for either Martin O'Neill or Mark Hughes is hardly a surprise. Whoever emerges victorious from the hand-to-hand battle, if indeed it is one that they care to pursue after establishing the terms of engagement being offered by owner Ellis Short, is likely to create an immediate sense of well-being at the Stadium of Light.

But whatever happened to the old possibility of a young coach filled not with a world-weary sense of the cost of everything, including mediocre midfielders from Bulgaria, but the conviction that he could change the face of football?

In the top flight of the English game there is just one working example and he is 34, Portuguese and right now might benefit from a little help from Our Lady of Fatima, to whom Jose Mourinho was said to be so devoted, at least in the formative stages of his career.

The other difference between Andre Villas-Boas and young English lions like Brian Clough, Don Revie and Malcolm Allison who insisted they were bound for the stars, is that he never kicked the ball professionally.

The point, of course, is that Sunderland's Short, who did invest heavily in the unproven potential of Roy Keane, and was rewarded by the great player's refusal to take his mobile phone calls when things got a little tricky, has every reason to cut his losses and look for the certainties that he can expect in an O'Neill or a Hughes.

When someone complained to Hughes during his time at Blackburn that the team's style of football was not exactly lighting up the moors around Ewood Park, he said he could solve the problem immediately if his critic immediately handed over £50m.

A whole generation of top footballers has both waxed extremely wealthy and seen, close-up, the pressures that accumulate so quickly. Hence players who in the old days would have seemed sure-fire candidates for major jobs in English football, now flock into the TV studios, most of them to bombard their viewers with the most anodyne of double talk.

One notable exception is Sky's Gary Neville, whose bracing analysis is winning some unlikely admirers and also suggesting that he might be a conspicuous loss to the managerial ranks. When asked about the likely successor to his fallen former team-mate Steve Bruce he said, not disrespectfully but with perhaps a hint of resignation, that inevitably it would be one of the old names – or, he might have put it another way, the usual suspects.

It was a reminder of the encrusted nature of the English football establishment, among whom Alan Pardew's brilliant surge is the performance of the baby among the Premier League's three English managers. At 50, Pardew is more than a decade younger than Harry Redknapp and Neil Warnock.

The intriguing, and rather saddening, historical detail is that Brian Clough was 32 when he took over at Derby County and Don Revie 33 when he assumed command at Leeds United. By comparison Malcolm Allison was quite elderly when he launched Manchester City into their greatest years. He was 38.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week