Sunderland caretaker Mike Dodds believes Jobe Bellingham can emerge from his superstar brother’s shadow and go “to the very top” himself after the teenager’s late winner ended Leeds’ seven-game unbeaten run.
The 18-year-old headed his fourth career goal in the 78th minute to secure a 1-0 EFL Championship win over the third-placed Whites on the same night his elder sibling and England international Jude was helping Real Madrid to victory over Union Berlin in the Champions League.
Dodds admitted it is “really difficult” for young Bellingham as he strives to make his way in a sport where his 20-year-old brother is regarded as one of the best on the planet, but he believes he has all the attributes to make a name for himself.
“Both brothers have a very similar mindset in terms of their relentless pursuit of where they want to get to,” said Dodds.
“He made a really brave and tough decision to leave Birmingham, the club he supported all his life. Thankfully from my perspective, it looks like he’s made the right decision and I’m sure he would reiterate that.
“But it is tough for him, it is tough for him. And it will only get easier as he gets credit in the bank for himself.
“I think it speaks volumes for Jobe that as an 18-year-old boy in the Championship, he could play as a nine against West Brom on Saturday and then a 10 against Leeds tonight.
“That shows what quality and class he has and just highlights what a fantastic talent he is regardless of the name on the back of his shirt.
“I think he can go to the very top. I’ve worked with a lot of young players and he would be up there with the very best I’ve worked with.”
Dodds was “over the moon” after he made it back-to-back home wins over West Brom and Leeds since taking the reins after the sacking of Tony Mowbray last week. Reims manager Will Still is currently the favourite to take over but Dodds expects to be in charge for Saturday’s trip to Bristol City.
“I’ve not had enough time to process what’s actually happened,” he said. “It’s been a whirlwind since last Tuesday. I knew how much effort I’d have to put in to prepare for these games and I’m tired.
“I’ve got a day off tomorrow and I’m going to spend the day Christmas shopping and trying to switch off. Then Thursday will be business as usual in terms of preparing for Saturday.”
Leeds boss Daniel Farke was loathe to criticise his team after they had won six of their previous seven matches.
“Congratulations to Sunderland for a great defensive effort,” he said.
“In general, I’m struggling to criticise my lads too much. It was a difficult away game and I thought we dominated for many periods but we didn’t find the cutting edge today.
“And credit to Sunderland, they tried to park the bus and they did really well. They gave their life in order to defend everything.”