To survive, Black Cats need the Devil's Advocaat
If Sunderland are to survive the drop, new manager Dick Advocaat would need to try every trick from his coaching book.
And there are many.
The 67-year-old Dutchman, known as a taskmaster, is not afraid to crack the whip when the time calls for it.
Just ask Swedish defender Joachim Bjorklund, who was two minutes behind schedule for lunch during Advocaat's first pre-season with Scottish club Glasgow Rangers in Norway.
In his defence, Bjorklund insisted that the lift was slow, to which Advocaat replied in front of the whole squad: "You're a footballer, aren't you? Use your bloody legs." Bjorklund was sold to Valencia soon after.
Advocaat, who led Holland to the 1994 World Cup at the expense of England, also implemented a fine system. For every minute players were late, they were fined £100 ($200). And if their mobile phones went off, it was £250.
Arthur Numan, who played for him at both international and club levels, recalled: "We had thousands in fines at the end of a season and Dick gave it all to charity. He's a hard man, but a good man."
Not surprisingly, Advocaat, who also managed the national teams of South Korea, Russia and Serbia, is held in high regard in the coaching fraternity.
His treble achievement with Rangers in 1999 must rank as one of his finest feats. And that was sealed by a psychological masterstroke.
Dick Advocaat when he was coach of the Russian national team. PHOTO: AFP
Four weeks before they played arch-rivals Celtic in the Scottish Cup final, they were in Marbella, Spain's infamous playboy resort.
Advocaat, who had promised the players a break after winning the Scottish League title and League Cup, was ready for breakfast at 6.45am, as his players stumbled in after a night out at a nightclub.
Said Numan: "He was seriously fuming. It was agreed we could have a break after winning the league in early May and we were allowed a night out, but I don't think Dick expected that.
"He screamed at us, 'I don't want to see you again. I'm off. You lot do what you want. But if you don't win the ******* cup final, I'm fining every ****** one of you'."
With that, Advocaat caught the next plane to Glasgow. His players duly beat Celtic 1-0 to complete the treble.
"Dick was clever like that," said Numan. "He knew how to get the best from his players."
Advocaat would probably need to do that and more, as they face deadly rivals Newcastle United in the Tyneside Derby on Sunday.
Source: Daily Mail