Brendan Rodgers has described his Scottish Cup final rival Derek McInnes as a “perfect fit” for the vacant Sunderland manager’s job.
Aberdeen boss McInnes has been installed as bookmaker’s favourite for the vacancy created by the resignation of David Moyes earlier this week in the wake of Sunderland’s relegation from the Premier League.
McInnes insisted yesterday that the speculation has not been a distraction in the build-up to this afternoon’s Hampden showdown against Celtic and stressed he still feels he has more to achieve at the Pittodrie club.
But Celtic manager Rodgers, who hopes to complete a domestic treble today at Aberdeen’s expense, believes taking charge of Sunderland would be an ideal career move for McInnes.
“He is absolutely perfect for it,” said former Swansea and Liverpool boss Rodgers. “As soon as I saw that [speculation] this week, I thought to myself ‘he’s a really good fit’.
“It’s a big club that has had a change and now needs someone who can go in there and can organise, someone who has been at a big club. Derek has been at big clubs. He played at Rangers, he has been down in England before, so he understands it. He has done a great job with Aberdeen, which is a big club. He would be perfect for it.
“He would go in, give them a bit of life, get them organised. He knows the game, he can engage with players, he can motivate players, and the Championship is a tough league. I got promoted there with Swansea and it is 46 games of graft and work and commitment. It would be brilliant for him if that is what he wanted to do and certainly for a club of that magnitude he would be perfect.”
Rodgers admits McInnes would have to take account of the risks of moving to a club which has just been relegated to the English Championship.
“You have to consider it,” added Rodgers. “He is in a really good place where he is. He has built something up over the course of four years and has given Aberdeen great stability. He has brought in a group of players who have done very well. But he may look at Sunderland as a possibility to get into the Premier League.”
McInnes, who had a 15-month spell in charge of Bristol City from 2011 to 2013, insists he does not have itchy feet as he attempts to end this season by winning his second piece of major silverware as Dons manager.
“There is a natural end point [at a club] for a lot of people in football but I don’t feel it is now,” said McInnes.
“I still feel there is more to achieve. I’m protective of my own career. There have been opportunities to move in the past but I have never been in any real rush to leave Aberdeen. If we continue to do our jobs well there may be opportunities in the future, but a lot of things would have to be right for me to consider leaving.
“I made a bad decision leaving St Johnstone for Bristol City. Although I actually feel like I did a lot of my best work as a manager when I was at Bristol City, sometimes results don’t always play out and back that up.
“The spotlight and the focus over the next few weeks at Aberdeen will be on me, the recruitment team and the board to bring reinforcements and a level of players in.
“We are recruiting from a position of strength. We can offer players a lot. We have European football and the chance to play in cup finals. It’s important the players who are remaining see good players walking into the building over the summer.
“There are always things you can aim for. We broke our points record this season, which was pleasing, and we have the Europa League to look forward to. We want to do a bit more in that competition. There are cup finals, we want to keep revisiting them and trying to win them.
“The league will be beyond us, of course, because I’ve always said even before this current Celtic team that it would take a really poor season from them for anyone to beat them. Celtic will win the league again next season on the evidence we have in front of us. But we can still be competitive and put demands on ourselves to do that. There are still things to achieve, if we win the cup this weekend then I’ll want to come back next year and do it again.”