REGIS LE BRIS insists Sunderland have strong foundations in place despite their chaotic end to last season, and is confident he can oversee a string of improvements following his appointment as head coach.

Le Bris officially starts work as Sunderland’s new boss tomorrow following his departure from French top-flight club Lorient, having spent the latter part of last week settling in to his new surrounds on Wearside.

The 48-year-old inherits a Sunderland side that tumbled down the Championship table in the second half of last season, eventually finishing in 16th position, just six points clear of the relegation zone.

The Black Cats won just two of their final 15 matches under the caretaker stewardship of Mike Dodds, but as prepares to take charge of his first training session, Le Bris is adamant the building blocks for a successful season are already in place.

“I can understand that the foundations of the club are very strong,” said the Frenchman. “It’s all about the history, but also about the future. We need to link the two ideas together to build the future.

“Sunderland is a club which is quite different from many others. It’s (got) a great history, and the community is very linked with this club. You can feel the energy and the passion around this club. For sure, they want to be higher, but also the foundations are very strong and I believe that we can perform very well to achieve the expectations of the fans.”

Le Bris has spent hours watching video clips from last season, and while Sunderland underperformed badly after making the play-offs in the previous clubs, their new boss is excited about the potential within the playing squad.


It remains to be seen whether Jobe Bellingham, who is interesting Brentford, and Jack Clarke, who is on Southampton’s wanted list, remain at the club next season, but Le Bris is more than happy with the strength of the resources at his disposal.

“I think that this group have a huge quality already,” said Le Bris, in his first interview with Sunderland’s official website. “Of course, I studied many games before coming here.

“They were able to perform very well, and they struggled also. So now, we need to find some strong foundations, and we need to build it during the pre-season because the Championship is very hard, a very tough league. We need to be consistent all the time, and this is the main purpose.”

Having worked in youth development with both Rennes and Lorient before spending two years in charge of the senior team at the latter club, Le Bris accepts he is stepping out of his comfort zone after agreeing to take over at the Stadium of Light.

“It’s a great moment for me,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity in my career. I always trained in France, with the youth academy at the beginning, and then with the professional team at Lorient. I thought that it was a great moment to move.

“Two years ago, I started to learn English because I had that idea in my mind, that I wanted to move abroad. I thought that England was the best way to go. Now, I am very happy to be there.

“Football was born here, so the passion is so impressive. The intensity, the quality of the players, the size of the clubs, it’s very impressive.”

Le Bris has also been impressed by Sunderland. He spent part of Friday morning meeting supporters who were queuing outside the revamped club store to buy the new home shirt, and was immediately struck by the strength of the bond between the club and its local community.

“I can feel their (the supporters) expectations, energy, intensity and support,” he said. “I had maybe 30 minutes with them and I could feel this energy.

“Of course, as many fans, I saw the series on Netflix. But also, I have coached before some players that played here – (Yann) M’Vila, for example.

“The history is very strong. I need to learn and understand who you are, for sure. It will give me some elements to train the team and explain to them how we want to play.

“I hope that we will link to our identity very quickly. For sure, with the quality of the players, the foundations of the club and the energy of the fans, we will perform very well. Obviously, there is still an opponent and the game is always unpredictable, but if we perform with our identity and our talented players, then for sure, we will perform well.”