Sunderland really don’t have much to shout about at the moment.
Having sacked Phil Parkinson, they are now four league matches without a win. Consequently, the Black Cats are six points off the pace in League One.
However, are things about to get better?
Owner Stewart Donald has been making immense strides to finally selling his majority stake in the club over the last few weeks.
Juan Sartori and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus are believed to be in pole position to acquire the club, but Donald has work to do before they arrive.
That’s because they’re searching for Parkinson’s successor and also a new technical director, someone to lead their recruitment.
That’s Birmingham City’s academy manager and coach, Kristjaan Speakman.
The 41-year-old has been with the Blues for 14 years and it’s thought that he’s now in advanced talks to join Sunderland as their sporting director. He had been lined up for a similar role in the Midlands before a U-turn on Speakman’s future was taken.
This would be an absolutely wonderful appointment from Donald, one that could mark a triumphant end to his reign as the owner of Sunderland.
Why? Well, Speakman’s record at Birmingham is a fabulous one, and his work with the youth academy should be welcomed by Sunderland supporters who have seen their best young players come and go.
Whether it be Jordan Pickford, Sam Greenwood, Joel Asoro or Josh Maja, there have been a host of bright academy products leave in recent years.
Though, with the help of Speakman, the Black Cats could put an end to that unwanted hoodoo. During his time with Birmingham, the young coach has achieved great things.
Under his watch, the likes of Demarai Gray, Nathan Redmond, Jack Butland and Jude Bellingham all broke through. The final three, meanwhile, have also all played for England. Of course, they departed eventually but it’s a testament to the hard work Speakman did that they produced so many eye-catching players in such a short space of time.
Talking about the 41-year-old, Birmingham reporter Brian Dick said: “I think if Sunderland are after a youth pathway it could be a good move for them. Speakman was also keen on getting the Blues academy up to an academy one status.”
Birmingham academy coach Jack Kennedy added: “I feel he will improve the academy immensely (at Sunderland). His track record of bringing through players at BCFC was very impressive, and he would always look to have the right programmes for each individual for them to be successful.”
This is tremendous news for a club who have seen their academy become a second priority in recent years. Players have left in search of greener pastures and last season, their U23s failed to win, drawing once and losing 17 outings.
Kennedy also told Roker Report a little bit about Speakman: “Nationwide he is highly thought of, and has done many talks through player development project – the leading coaching provider which has coaches across the globe, and talks about his values and how he developed the culture at the club.”
This move from Donald can only be a positive one.