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Thursday, 10 October, 2002, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
Exciting times ahead?
Howard Wilkinson
Wilkinson has a tough job on his hands

The buzz word down at the Stadium of Light was "excitement" as the club announced Howard Wilkinson as their new manager.

Sunderland chairman Bob Murray was asked if the fans would be excited by the appointment.

"Well I'm a Sunderland fan and I'm excited," he enthused.

Howard Wilkinson went a couple of steps further, saying he was "very, very, very excited".

Steve Cotterill, who left his job as manager of Stoke to become Wilkinson's assistant, said he was "full of excitement".

But outside in the car park amongst the hundred or so fans that made the trip to hear the news, the feeling was there is very little to get excited about.

They all had their favourites to replace Peter Reid, whether it was Martin O'Neill, David O'Leary or Mick McCarthy.

Not many were calling for Wilkinson.

"Get Peter Reid back," came one voice from the crowd.

Others described it as a "step backwards", "the wrong decision", "a shocking decision" and a "kick in the teeth".

Martyn McFadden, editor of Sunderland fanzine A Love Supreme, said the appointment had come as a surprise.

"I'd have chosen Martin O'Neill, but I would have had Rivaldo and Raul playing up front for us," he said. "You can't always get what you want.

"There's been a lot of negativity around the club over 18 months. But hopefully they are going to be the best management team in Sunderland's history."

The overriding feeling - despite the lack of excitement - was that the fans need to get behind the new management team.

Wilkinson and Cotterill - labelled the "odd couple" by one fan - will get the backing of the Sunderland fans because in the end the only thing they want is success for the club.

But they will have to act fast if they are to get the fans behind them.

Steve Cotterill
Cotterill is a highly-respected coach
There has been very little to cheer about for Sunderland for the past 18 months.

Not only have the results been poor but the football has been dreadful to watch.

Wilkinson has hardly forged a reputation for the way he plays the beautiful game.

The dynamic duo have been told there is no money to spend, so any improvements will have to come on the training ground.

As highly respected coaches that is something that should not be a problem.

While many cast doubts on the appointment of Wilkinson, the former FA technical director received the backing of a man who knows what it takes to be Sunderland boss.

"The fans probably wanted someone a bit more flamboyant like Martin O'Neill and it won't be a dream team for them," said Lawrie McMenemy.

"But they may just find that they've got the perfect man for the job."

Wise words from the man widely considered to be the best manager Sunderland have had in recent Newcastle fans.

New Sunderland boss Howard Wilkinson
"I knew this was the right place for me"
Martyn McFadden
"Everyone's hoping they can be a major success story"
Will Howard Wilkinson keep Sunderland up?



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