While there has been an element of surprise to Liam Rosenior’s sacking from Hull City this week it was an outcome which lends itself to Sunderland’s desire to wait until the end of the season to appoint their new head coach.

Almost three months have passed since Sunderland majority owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus presided over the decision to part company with Michael Beale after just 12 games in charge before handing the reins over to Mike Dodds on an interim basis for the second time this year – the caveat being Dodds would be given the remaining 13 games of the Championship season this time around.

The purpose of handing the head coach position to Dodds for the final two-and-a-half-months of the season was twofold; it allowed for a smoother, quicker transition given Dodds’ influence already within the first team environment having also overseen two wins and a defeat in his three games earlier in the campaign, while it also afforded the decision makers at the Stadium of Light that rare luxury of time in order to whittle down their ideal choice of candidate.

“Our focus is now on the players and supporting Mike Dodds in the remaining games to ensure we achieve the highest possible league finish,” the club’s sporting director Kristjaan Speakman said following the dismissal of Beale in February. “We will be updating our supporters further as and when significant developments are made.”


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As yet, there is still to be an update regarding those ‘significant developments,’ despite the season now at a close. In an ideal world for Sunderland’s chiefs, Dodds would have enjoyed a positive end to the season that saw Sunderland finish respectably in the Championship table, even if that did mean missing out on the top six and a play-off spot, to allow a little more breathing space.

What transpired was much worse as the form under Dodds worsened from that in which Beale had overseen during his brief two-month period on Wearside. Sunderland slid down the league table in an abject manner, with little in the way of hope or optimism to cling onto – something which, in turn, has heaped more pressure on the club’s hierarchy to finalise an appointment of a new head coach.

In the wake of their 2-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday to close out the season, coupled with the comments made by Speakman in February, it felt necessary for action to be taken and an appointment be made swiftly – or at the very least an update on proceedings. The decision from Hull to part ways with somebody like Rosenior, however, perhaps offers an insight into why things have remained relatively silent so far.

Rosenior was in charge of Hull for 18 months after taking over in 2022 following an encouraging enough interim period as Derby County’s head coach prior to that. The former England under-21 international steered Hull from the bottom half of the Championship table and, this season, turned them into play-off contenders, narrowly missing out on the final day by just three points after losing at Plymouth Argyle.

We Are Sunderland: Liam Rosenior during Hull City's 1-0 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in JanuaryLiam Rosenior during Hull City's 1-0 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in January (Image: Ian Horrocks)

News of his sacking on Tuesday, both inside and outside the confines of the MKM Stadium, came as a shock before Hull owner Acun Ilicali outlined the reasons behind his decision to move on from Rosenior in an exclusive interview with BBC Humberside where the Turkish media mogul cited Rosenior’s style of play as the key reason.

"There are so many positive things, but at the end of the day me and my team are dreaming of something for this club and there is a football style we want to see on the pitch,” Ilicali explained.

"Liam's football philosophy is very good and may be successful but we didn't see it suiting our character for the future. I want offensive football. I want an attacking, entertaining team. I said it from the first minute I bought this club.

"I said I would rather lose 3-2 than have a boring 0-0. If you are counting the points and draw every game 0-0 you are going to get relegated. If you lose 3-2, it means you will win another game 4-1.

"My football brain is completely full of a successful and entertaining football style. Liam has a great philosophy, but there are different styles of football in the world - Liam's direction can be successful but we want to see different things."

Whether or not Rosenior’s brand of play would marry up with what Sunderland desire – something akin to Tony Mowbray’s attacking style of last season as suggested by Dodds – remains open for debate. Likewise, whether Rosenior would now find himself as a potential candidate for the vacancy at the Stadium of Light also remains unclear.

But the timing of his dismissal is the important factor here. By waiting until after the season has finished, Sunderland are opening up potential other avenues in their search as other candidates may, or may not, become available. 



Will Still has been on the club’s radar since Mowbray was sacked in December before his compensation package proved to be a stumbling block in prying him away from Stade de Reims. Still, just weeks before the conclusion of the Ligue 1 season, has now confirmed his exit from Stade Auguste Delaune which now likely makes the 31-year-old an even greater proposition.

The idea of waiting for each respective European domestic season to conclude also suggests the possibility of the club looking to appoint somebody who is in work, or at least has been until recently – Bayern Munich youth coach Rene Maric another to fall into that category, likewise Sheffield Wednesday’s Danny Rohl.

The German masterminded a stunning escape for Sheffield Wednesday and, as such, is a manager in demand – the 35-year-old also believed to now be on Hull’s radar after moving on from Rosenior.

Rohl, it’s understood, is to head away on holiday having held a round of talks with Wednesday's chairman Dejphon Chansiri before reconvening upon his return, with the German keen to establish certain assurances at Hillsborough as well as the prospect of a new contract in S6. If Rohl still remains high on Sunderland’s wish list, these delays are also why a decision has yet to be made by the club.

We Are Sunderland: Danny Rohl impressed when leading Sheffield Wednesday to safety on the final day of the Championship season with a 2-0 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of LightDanny Rohl impressed when leading Sheffield Wednesday to safety on the final day of the Championship season with a 2-0 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light (Image: Ian Horrocks)

If the appointment turns out to be a head coach who could have been brought in following Beale’s exit back in February, however, the club will continue to open itself up to a number of questions as to why the decision was not made instantly in an attempt to salvage a season which remained far from doomed at the time.

The severity of the next head coach appointment means there are several anxieties which accompany each passing day without an update. The time the club provided itself by installing Dodds has now run out. Waiting brings with it the potential for further avenues and candidates the club may not have been expecting to become available, but it also brings huge risk in stalling on a fanbase who need to see signs of an improved strategy in place while also bringing potential competition into the equation as other clubs begin their own restructuring and head coach searches.