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Sunderland hero reveals who would he ‘high on his list’ for next Black Cats head coach

Sunderland legend Gordon Armstrong reckons the club making the choice of next manager “is not an easy thing to do.”

A former team-mate, Paul Heckingbottom is in the frame, a man who started his playing career at Sunderland and Armstrong believes he’d be a good choice. The 56-year-old former midfielder scored 50 goals in more than 350 appearances for the Black Cats.

He was one of a handful of former players speaking at the launch of a Sunderland limited edition bottle of Jameson whiskey. Partnering with Classic Football Shirts, the bottle features Sunderland’s 1992 away shirt, paying homage to Sunderland’s iconic FA Cup final season.

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On Heckingbottom, Armstrong said: “He has been in a difficult situation at Sheffield United as that hasn’t been an easy club to deal with. They lost all their best players. Some people will say he was at Sheffield United and they got relegated but there is virtually no chance of keeping that club in that league because of the situation at the club.

“Overall he’s done a very good job. He seems to be a modern type of manager, he’s coached and all those things and played the game. He would be high on my list but we’ll see whether he’ll get a chance or not. Who knows, it’s not an easy thing to do to pick the right one.”

Armstrong fears Sunderland will lose one or two of their big players too and added: “That will be the interesting bit in the summer, because the plan and the model has always been to sell young players eventually so it will be interesting to see which ones could go. Jack Clarke is a big worry because he’s had a massive output in terms of goals. [Dan] Ballard too. There’s been some great signings and I’m very worried for Clarke. It would be a bit easier replacing someone like Ballard as a centre-half, who has done a tremendous job as well. But to find someone like Clarke again is tremendously difficult and will cost money.”

Armstrong touched on his successful time at the club and, asked for his best memory, he said: “Beating Newcastle in the play-offs, that was in 1990 wasn’t it.

“That’s my best memory because we drew the first game at home and everybody thought we were beaten, including all the media. They were rather joyous and thought they had it all won. So to go there and win was amazing so that’s probably my favourite memory. The Chelsea game [FA Cup quarter-final vs Chelsea in 1992 when he scored the headed winner] everybody remembers but my favourite memory of all was going there [St James’ Park] and beating them in the semi-final of the play- offs.”

The club has changed dramatically since Armstrong played between 1986 and 1996 and he added: “Building the Stadium of Light was the biggest change in Sunderland’s history. And that’s changed a lot of things. It’s a big old building and a lot goes on. So that’s probably the biggest thing that’s changed. “Football has changed radically too hasn’t it. In our time everybody played 4-4-2 and that’s how it was and there wasn’t really much talk about tactics or pressing or anything like that.

“There were no tactical talks at all. There’s arguments both ways as to whether it was better. It’s probably gone too far the other way and everyone’s got an opinion on tactics and things. Sometimes I ask people about pressing and what’s this and that and they haven’t got a clue what it is most of them.”

He remembers Roker Park with great affection too and added: “Roker Park was different, it was amazing. I just loved Roker Park. If you got a big game and especially under the lights, it was an amazing atmosphere and obviously it was different. People standing, people moving around, you just couldn’t beat it.”

Referring back to the current Sunderland squad and why they haven’t sustained a push towards the top of the table he reflected: “The biggest factor is we haven’t had a centre-forward who has been a regular in the team and who’s done well enough really, let’s be honest. We haven’t scored enough goals from that position, we all know that. There are other issues too but that’s the biggest one.”

View news Source: https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/sunderland-hero-reveals-who-would-29045822

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