x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Sbragia bows out as boss

Ricky Sbragia stepped down as Sunderland manager yesterday despite leading his team to safety.

SUNDERLAND // Ricky Sbragia stepped down as Sunderland manager yesterday despite leading his team to safety, although the fact that the Black Cats clung on to their status was more by luck than design. Sbragia was placed in charge after Roy Keane resigned in December but he has managed to muster just one win in the last 13 games. His departure opens for the door for a new manager to be appointed by Ellis Short, the Texas-based tycoon who is poised to take control of the club. He was at the Stadium of Light yesterday.

"I've had a chat with Niall (chairman, Quinn) this week and I think we need a bigger name to carry the club further. I've done everything I needed to," said Sbragia. "I was given the opportunity to manage the club - and I've kept them in the Premier League. I would like to have done it better but I'm really pleased we stayed up." Guus Hiddink also took charge for the last time in the Premier Leegue yesterday and his Chelsea team gave the Dutchman a winning send off.

Following a goalless first period, the game burst into life in the second half. Nicolas Anelka's 25th goal of the season two minutes into the second half ignited the goal rush. The lead did not last long however, Kieran Richardson levelling for the hosts. Substitute Salomon Kalou restored Chelsea's lead in the 74th minute, beating Marton Fulop at his near post, before Ashley Cole claimed the visitors' third four minutes from time.

Kenwyne Jones pulled a last-minute goal back but, in the end, the result was rendered academic by events at the KC Stadium and Villa Park. sports@thenational.ae