Ball ready for further talks

Kevin Ball has revealed he will discuss his Sunderland future with the board after the Manchester United game.

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Kevin Ball: Set for further Sunderland t

Kevin Ball: Set for further Sunderland t

Kevin Ball has revealed he will discuss his future as Sunderland's interim head coach with the board after Saturday's clash with Manchester United.

The Black Cats confirmed earlier this week that the 48-year-old's tenure had been extended to include the visit of the reigning Barclays Premier League champions to the Stadium of Light.

Ball has put himself forward as a candidate for the permanent role, with owner Ellis Short still assessing his options after holding talks with a series of potential replacements for Paolo Di Canio.

While he waits, the club's senior professional development coach is happy to hold the fort with the break for international matches following this weekend's fixture.

Asked if he was any clearer about how long he might remain at the helm, Ball confirmed there had been talks with the board, with more planned.

"We spoke to them earlier in the week and they said about taking Saturday's game and then we would speak after, and I was quite happy to do that," he said.

"Yes, some people might say, 'You are better off getting it sorted out', but ultimately, they have got a little window now."

Ball's two games in charge to date have seen him guide the club to a 2-0 Capital One Cup victory over Peterborough, and Sunday's more sobering 3-1 league defeat by Liverpool on Wearside.

That left the Black Cats still marooned at the foot of the table with just a single point from the 18 they have contested to date and facing another tough assignment this weekend.

However, Ball saw enough in a much improved display against the Merseysiders to give him cause for optimism despite the severe challenge posed by his side's forthcoming mission.

He is acutely aware that the shortcomings which let Sunderland down against Liverpool must be addressed as a matter of urgency though, and that has meant the players watching a series of video nasties this week.

Ball said: "It's difficult because you are sitting watching video footage of yourself. It can be great if you are doing well.

"But if you see something and think, 'I should have done that better', and then all of a sudden everyone is looking at it...

"You multiply that by hundreds of thousands of people watching it on telly, but when they are in here amongst their mates, their peers, that's quite hard to deal with as well.

"It's not to embarrass them or anything - this is what I have said to them - it's to help them see what we need to do to improve that little minor detail that might be the difference between winning or losing, getting a goal or not getting a goal, conceding a free-kick that leads to a goal or not.

"They have seen it from a very positive angle, and that's what I want."

Ball's return to the hot-seat - he had 10 games in caretaker charge in 2006, one of them a 0-0 draw with United at Old Trafford - has coincided with midfield bruiser Lee Cattermole's re-emergence to supplement the leadership provided by skipper John O'Shea.

The pair may have contrasting styles, but former midfielder Ball knows from personal experience how well that can work after very nearly suffering a derby nightmare at Newcastle in August 1999.

Ball said: "What you see with John is not a casual captain's approach, more a calming influence.

"What you see from Lee is a little bit more of the fist-pumping and you watch him and are led by the way he is.

"I look back on my career and I like it, I like players who do both of those. I like a time when a player is calming someone.

"The time we played at Newcastle when I accidentally hit the [Sunderland] crossbar from 45 yards, I was probably in a bit of a flap then, and Chris Makin shouted out to me, 'Bally, Bally!'.

"I looked around imagining he was going to give me it, and he just said, 'That's the funniest thing I have ever seen'. Now because of that, it instantly calmed me down."


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