Who is Sunderland’s new assistant manager? The truth about ex-Hamilton boss Martin Canning
Sunderland have appointed Alex Neil as their new head coach on a 12-month deal – and he’s brought in former Hamilton Academical team-mate Martin Canning to be his assistant.
Canning took over from Neil as Hamilton boss, initially as a caretaker, once the new Sunderland head coach left for Norwich City in 2015 and was in charge of the Scottish club for four years.
Hamilton owner Ronnie MacDonald is full of praise for Canning and the work he’s done for his club (via LinkedIn):
Martin was a club captain, coaching youngsters and studying for his coaching qualifications after eleven years of service when Alex Neil (Hamilton coach) left to join Norwich City FC.
At 34, he has performed his duties in a dignified and exemplary manner.
He retained our Premier League status for four seasons while introducing and developing youngsters into his squads. I have no hesitation in recommending him to any club.
Once Canning himself left Hamilton, he visited various clubs, including Real Betis, Celtic and Leicester City, to broaden his coaching horizons and while studying for his UEFA professional licence.
It was during this coaching period that Canning had his first experience of Sunderland, when he visited the Academy of Light for a spell under Jack Ross.
Addressing the Daily recording On those experiences, Canning explains that it was about learning more about the game as he feels he got into management too quickly with Hamilton:
Real Betis were good. I flew to Madrid because they were playing Atletico that night.
I went to the team hotel to pick up my tickets and was able to meet all the staff. It was excellent.
After the match, I took the train to Sevilla and spent three days training with Betis.
It’s amazing how different it was. It was all with the ball.
It was a very slow tempo, passing patterns. Here, intensity is paramount. It’s about getting it back, getting it back, getting it back.
In Spain, they didn’t care about the intensity. It was so technical, which is a completely different but great way for me to see.
I also went to Preston to see Alex Neil. I’ve been to Leicester with Brendan Rodgers, Celtic with Lennon, Aberdeen with Derek McInnes. I will be going to Sunderland in the next few weeks to see Jack Ross.
It’s learning everything for me. I have sometimes been naive in thinking that I know everything. But I went straight from acting to managing when I probably wasn’t ready for that.
It was a sink or swim affair. I managed to fight and master what I was trying to do.
Given my experience, keeping Hamilton in place has been a huge achievement.
As well as the stint as Hamilton boss, which included a short spell as a player-manager, Canning played for Ross County, Hibernian and doomed Scottish club Gretna.