What Sunderland would have to offer Willy Still to take over as the team’s new head coach and why he departed Reims

What Sunderland would have to offer Willy Still to take over as the team’s new head coach and why he departed Reims

Will Still’s resignation from Reims last week could have a big impact on Sunderland’s head coach search, depending on what transpired at the French team.

Back in December, the 31-year-old was a candidate to take over as Sunderland’s head coach, but the Black Cats would have needed to pay a substantial compensation sum.

continued to lead Reims at the end of 2022, prior to the team going on a 19-game winning streak and placing 11th in Ligue 1. Following that, Reims had a strong start to the 2023–24 season, but after Still left, they lost their final eight league games and fell to 11th place.

We spoke with CBS’s France-based soccer writer Jonathan Johnson to learn more about Still’s departure from Reims.

Was Still’s departure from Reims unexpected at the time?
JJ: “Both yes and no. Yes, since I had assumed he would stay for the entire season before going. No, since it’s been evident for a few weeks now that Still’s rapport with the Reims hierarchy has soured.

“I believe that this process has accelerated due to the team’s sudden withdrawal from consideration for a European spot. In addition, I believe that several candidates, including Habib Beye, have lately become available to replace Still. It remains to be seen if Beye will replace Still, but I believe a split was inevitable, particularly after the January transfer window.

After making a strong beginning, how did his tenure at the club end?
JJ: “Despite a disappointing conclusion to his stay with the club, I believe that Still will leave pleasant memories overall. Breaks were beginning to show, particularly after Still expressed a wish to work in England. Reims is taking a chance because Still managed to get a lot out of a small crew despite the project’s obvious constraints, which may have begun to irritate Still.

“However, I do believe that Still needs to exercise caution when selecting his next position, since I was taken aback by his readiness to downplay his accomplishments by declaring his desire to work in the Championship. Many clubs will believe that his statement indicates a lack of ambition.

Considering Sunderland’s interest, do you believe his leaving was a coincidence?
JJ: “It wouldn’t surprise me if it was looked at again, but there would probably be a lot of interest still. If he does not instantly find a new job, I believe he will be disappointed that West Ham United is not going to be one of those teams, but there are other potentially interesting landing locations for him, and he will surely be glad that he may have a complete pre-season ahead of him.

“Sunderland needs to show him a compelling project, but I stand by my earlier statement that the squad’s composition is a good fit for him, especially with some of the French speakers we currently have on staff.”

Do you believe he would suit well at Sunderland in the Championship?
JJ: “In my opinion, he has performed better in Ligue 1 than the Championship, but the financial resources in England’s second division are greater than those that the majority of clubs in France’s top division have access to.”

“I believe Still’s reputation is still high, so he needs to be cautious about the next position he accepts. Depending on what transpires over the coming weeks, there may still be one or two intriguing Premier League openings.”

Share this post