Robbie Stockdale hoping Sam Allardyce’s lessons can save Sunderland

Sunderland go into the derby at Middlesbrough with their joint caretaker manager studying old blueprints in a bid to stop their slump

Ellis Short became a billionaire in the world of high finance but, transposed to planet football, Sunderland’s owner has had an awful lot of trouble making his numbers stack up. In a rare, and defiantly passionate, Friday afternoon address to fans, the American declared seventh place in the Premier League to be the club’s natural habitat. In reality, they kick off at Middlesbrough on Sunday lunchtime residing in the Championship’s relegation zone.

A key reason why his equations for success stubbornly refuse to balance rests with the relentless manager churn. Of the eight coaches Short – no longer actively trying sell Sunderland – has worked with in the past six years, only one has departed on a high.

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