"He has an excellent and well-founded reputation for developing players and he is an outstanding progressive coach, who is aligned with our playing identity and naturally fits within our structure alongside Mike Dodds and the wider team," said Kristjaan Speakman after Michael Beale was announced as Sunderland head coach in December.

Alignment being the key word. Sunderland fans need no reminding of how Beale's red and white tenure would pan out, unravelling after just 64 days in charge. A managerial spell that is still just as confusing to decipher as it was in the middle of February.

"It's about recruiting players that are on the up rather than players that are at their full potential and the excitement of working with that and the potential to fulfil it, it's a group of players that have got really high ambition and they've not fulfilled it yet and I'm completely aligned with that," Beale said as he attempted to explain the model to reporters at his unveiling at the Academy of Light.

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"That's where I am as a coach as well. I need to establish myself firmly as a coach. I've been an assistant for a number of years, in youth development, but an elite coach, it's time for me to fulfil my potential here at Sunderland.

"That's how I see the squad and that's how I see the  alignment as well. All the processes are nowhere near as complex as people would assume. Everything I've heard and listened to, is what I believe in. That's why I was so keen.

"The interview process was lengthy in terms of the amount of discussions we had, we delved in and then went back over, to make sure there was real clarity on all sides and I'm delighted to be sat here."

More clarity and alignment.

We Are Sunderland: Former Sunderland head coach Michael Beale.Former Sunderland head coach Michael Beale. (Image: Ian Horrocks)

And yet, throughout his Wearside tenure, Beale would send out conflicting messages that were anything but clear.

"I'll just mention this now, we're not going to mention the age of the players moving forward because we believe that they're good enough," he said after the 1-0 win over the Hull City on Boxing Day. "If you're old enough, you're good enough."

A strange comment given the approach that would follow. Beale would go on to mention the age of his young squad in every interview that would follow, praising their talent in victories, but citing the lack of experience in defeats. 

That's not to say the lack of experience hasn't been an issue for Sunderland this season - it's evident it has.

Like Tony Mowbray before him, Beale called for more grey hairs and experience to be added to the squad in January, which fell on deaf ears. Defeat to his predecessor saw the Black Cats boss given the boot.

Alex Neil, Lynden Gooch and current interim boss Mike Dodds would send a clear message to the Sunderland hierarchy in the weeks that would follow Beale's departure. Experienced Championship players are key if the Black Cats have true ambition of returning to the top flight.

So why this conversation now? 

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Beale made his first public appearance on our TV screens on Good Friday, on Sky Sports News as a pundit where he spoke about his departure from Wearside.

"It's difficult when you go in a club, but I think you probably have to acknowledge they didn't want the change - the fans," Beale said on Sky Sports. "They're ultimately not in control of that.

"The change was made with Tony leaving after doing a good job. I think the big thing with the Sunderland squad now is that it's very talented in terms of technical ability but needs a bit more experience within the team to maybe get over the line, even in the games since I've left and Mike Dodds has taken the team.

"The results have probably not been what they've deserved from the performances. There's a little bit of nous and experience could certainly help the group.

"Last year they certainly had that in the forward positions and that's been an area where the team has struggled this year. I think moving forward everybody at Sunderland would like to see them bring in an established number nine to lead the line.

"I really wish them well. Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, the owner, I was close to him and we were very honest all the way through. There's no arguments. It's ultimately his club and I wish them well."

Here we are, over a month on from Beale's departure and his stance has shifted dramatically from the day of his appointment, suggesting things at the Stadium of Light were far less aligned than the public message that was delivered.

The fourth head coach to speak out about recruitment since Kyril Louis-Dreyfus took over the club with Speakman as sporting director. The reality of the situation remains far from clear.

There's very little Beale said yesterday that would see supporters disagree, but it's that change in tact from the former Black Cats boss that sees them question his message. As Sunderland search for a new head coach, one thing is clear, they need to improve the message coming out of the club and the right man in charge can do just that.

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It's fair to say during his time at the club, Beale would tangle himself in conflicting statements, which played a part in his undoing with the fanbase.

In terms of recruitment, it's also fair to say the club didn't give Beale the best opportunity to succeed with the number nine Sunderland so desperately craved. Will they do that in the summer with a new head coach at the helm?

Will there be more talk or alignment and clarity? Will there be some wriggle room with the model? Time will tell.