Don Goodman - Exclusive Interview

Don Goodman Exclusive Interview

In an exclusive sit-down with, former professional striker Don Goodman shared his thoughts on the latest EFL happenings. From discussing Sunderland’s managerial changes to debating the dynamics of promotions and relegations, we’ve got it all covered. Stay tuned to get Goodman’s expert insights on the UK’s top clubs!

Reaction to Tuesday’s EFL clashes, with a particular focus on Sunderland

It wouldn’t be fair to say Sunderland have capitulated but it’s the type of games they have lost in this sequence which is disappointing. They were on the periphery of the play-off spots and lost to Birmingham, Huddersfield and Swansea.

Even if you’re the most stubborn member of Sunderland’s hierarchy, you have to reflect and say ‘We made a mistake, we should have stuck with Tony Mowbray.’ Who knows where they would have been in the summer, there was a feel-good factor around the place.

The minute Tony gets sacked, that feel-good factor disappears and all of a sudden Michael Beale is under pressure after coming in because the fans don’t want him. Fan power is absolutely massive.

This is a young group of players with barely any senior ones to help guide them through choppy waters. It’s very hard as a young player to hear your own fans boo you off the pitch and listen to them voice their displeasure at the new head coach. I’m really not surprised that Sunderland have gone backwards since Tony Mowbray left.

Michael Beale tried to make Sunderland more solid and difficult to play against but took away what we loved about Sunderland, their free-flowing and fearless style of play. Once that was gone, it was only a matter of time until he would lose his job.

Mike Dodds is in charge and did a decent job before but reality is kicking in. It’s an audition for him which is not going well.

Sunderland moved to dismiss Michael Beale last month. Was that the right decision?

The place was turning toxic. Can you imagine if Michael Beale oversaw the last three losses? The fans and social media would be exploding! So, I do understand why they sacked him.

Sunderland’s board have pretty much said ‘We’ve messed up so badly that we have blown our play-off chances.’ It’s an acknowledgement of their mistake and putting Mike Dodds in charge is an attempt to stabilise.

I think they are out of the relegation battle, despite never thinking I would say that, but Sunderland are out of the play-off race. They are a young group that needs some help from experience, which is what Tony Mowbray was being refused.

Sunderland are rigid in their approach of only buying young players to sell them on and make a profit. That will not get you to the Premier League. It will make you self-sufficient and ensure your finances are solid but it will not get you anywhere near the Premier League.

I hear that when Jack Clarke goes, Sunderland believe his replacement is already at the club and they will be developing somebody. As a fan, it’s not what you want to hear. I understand why they want to go young and I’m not saying they need to have a team full of experience, but they need to modify their approach. Three or four senior players would give you a much better chance of success.

Mike Dodds and Steve Cooper are two names linked with the vacancy. Would they be good fits?

For a high-calibre manager, Sunderland is not an attractive job due to their policies and strategy. I’ve seen Steve Cooper linked and he’s an ideal candidate being from an academy background, having worked effectively with young players and succeeded by guiding Swansea to the play-offs twice and taking Nottingham Forest from the bottom of the table to the Premier League.  He knows the Championship and has a reputation for moulding young players.

But is it an attractive job for Steve Cooper when he can’t bring in the players he wants? I just cannot see how they will attract a manager of his pedigree. I hope they are already in the market and talking to prospective new managers. Mike Dodds will be desperate to put a run of results together and be in the conversation but he needs to put results together and quickly.

Ian Evatt would be a very good fit for the job. Bolton fans won’t thank me but his style of play is very similar to Tony Mowbray’s in terms of playing in the front-foot, dominating possession and attacking. Would he leave Bolton, though? For all the above reasons he might not want the job.

Stylistically, he and Steve Cooper would be ideal for Sunderland.

What next for Michael Beale? Do you see a club he’d be suited to next?

I hope Michael Beale considers becoming a number two and assistant again. It’s less stressful and he can enjoy coaching, which is what he excels at and built his reputation on. He should take a year out of the high-pressure environment, too.

He needs to go and rebuild his reputation and then he can maybe go again (as a manager) but I know once you have a taste of it, management is like a drug and you just want more. I’m just not sure it’s an option for him right now, though.

Reaction to Ipswich’s comeback win vs Bristol City

Ipswich’s defensive record is a bit shocking for a team going for automatic promotion! If they reach the Premier League automatically, it will likely be with the worst-ever defensive record of a promoted team. Teams in the top two tend to be solid and effective in both boxes, which applies to both Leeds United and Leicester City.

Ipswich leak goals but they usually outscore the opposition and when you’ve got such goal output at your disposal, you’re always going to have a chance of turning around games. It was an incredible game against Bristol City because I’m watching it ahead of covering them vs Cardiff City at the weekend and thinking in the first half ‘Wow, Ipswich look nervous and are not flowing. If that’s their level they will just fall away from the top two.’

All of a sudden Bristol City scored and Ipswich burst into life. It was a thrilling second half but what a great team they are to watch, I’m really looking forward to seeing them on Saturday.

Leicester have dropped points in recent weeks. Is there hope for Ipswich, Southampton and Leeds to claim the title?

You have to say, yes, the title is up for grabs now. When a team is only three points behind the other you have to say it is.

Southampton must win against Preston but for the other three teams, my goodness it is certainly up for grabs. I can actually see someone like Southampton getting 94 points and still finish fourth. There’s a possibility that Leicester, Ipswich, Leeds and Southampton could all get 100 points and that’s also including the odd defeat.

If Southampton go away to all three teams above them and win, it could be huge for them. It’s a brilliant race, which for such a long period we thought Ipswich and Leicester would cruise it. Leeds then won nine in a row which brought them into it and Southampton beforehand went on an incredible unbeaten run, accumulating in a four-team battle for two places.

It’s the same at the bottom of the league, how could you predict any of this happening? The Championship is the gift that keeps giving and I’m very privileged to have worked on it for so many years.

I still think Leicester City will get promoted because even in the games they’ve lost, apart from Leeds at home, they’ve been as good if not better than their opponents and just suffered some very unfortunate luck. It was a massive win for them against Sunderland.

Who are favourites to win promotion at this stage?

Outside of Leicester, who I’m not sure will win the league by the way, common sense and logic tell me that Leeds are favourites to win automatic promotion but I have a nagging feeling in my head that Ipswich just won’t go away and will be there right until the end.

If you’re holding a gun to my head, I think Leeds will win promotion. I’m loving every minute of it!

How do you fancy West Brom’s promotion chances?

It’s looking good for West Brom. When I covered them against Ipswich at Portman Road I said if they are still in the top six after games against Ipswich away, Cardiff, Southampton, Plymouth away, Hull away and Coventry they will finish in the play-offs.

After QPR they play against Huddersfield, Bristol City, Millwall, Stoke and Rotherham. You would expect them to get a reasonable amount of points, so I’m thrilled that they got through that important run of games with a decent amount of points.

Carlos Corberan makes Albion so hard to play against and makes it so difficult for the better teams in the league when they face off. Barring a disaster, I have no doubt that they will finish in the play-off positions.

Who do you fear for in the relegation battle?

I cannot believe it has come to this! For so long, Rotherham, Sheffield Wednesday and QPR were marooned. But low and behold, a few of the other teams down the bottom endure a poor run of form and Sheffield Wednesday win four Championship games in a row and QPR win three in a row.

It’s an incredible scenario, Swansea are 15th but are only four points away from 23rd place. Sheffield Wednesday and Stoke City had the most points a 22nd place team has ever had after 35 games since the Championship’s rebrand.  Millwall appointed Neil Harris and he’s got them going and Huddersfield’s new manager has got a bounce.

The teams that I fear for are Stoke, Blackburn and Plymouth. Argyle’s fixtures are reasonably favourable compared to the last six to eight games, however, and they have goalscorers in Morgan Whittaker and Ryan Hardie, which I really think should stand them in good stead in a relegation battle.

If Blackburn fail to beat Plymouth or Middlesbrough next up, I think they will find themselves in the bottom three. Their last eight games then look ominous.

I have no idea how Stoke have ended up in their current situation. They had a solid manager in Alex Neil and recruited a lot of players who were mostly unknown quantities but it really hasn’t worked. I feel for Steven Schumacher and wouldn’t blame him as he has inherited a difficult situation.

Even Bristol City, Watford and Middlesbrough can’t be ruled out of the relegation battle if results go wrong for them.

Your old club, Motherwell, beat Rangers at the weekend. But is the title still going to Ibrox?

The results at the weekend were a shock and Celtic’s defeat was even worse because they’d already seen Rangers lose to Motherwell the day before, even if Hearts are the third-best team in Scotland.

Although Rangers lost to Motherwell, momentum had been in their favour prior to that by winning nine in a row and 10 in a row at home. Celtic had only won three of their last six, which by their standards, is very patchy.

Would it surprise me if they won all their remaining games of the season, however? No, it wouldn’t and the Old Firm is coming up and that will be the deciding factor despite twists and turns.