Quinn close to luring 'top-class manager' to save Sunderland

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The Independent Football

The Sunderland chairman, Niall Quinn, has promised to deliver "someone who will will give the people the lift they need" as the club look set for a season of turmoil.

The Black Cats have lost all five matches played so far - four in the Championship and the other in the Carling Cup.

The Irishman confirmed in the wake of his team's humiliating first-round defeat at Bury on Tuesday that he hoped to have the new man in place within days. He declined to name his target, but the appointment cannot come quickly enough for disgruntled fans.

Quinn said: "I stepped into the role [as manager] because we didn't get the quality of manager I thought we would, but we are now getting very close to that. I didn't like to put the players under pressure in the last month by saying I was still looking, but I know my role here is best as chairman. I would say in the coming days, maybe over the weekend, we may have better news. We have tracked a would-be manager for the last four weeks and we are getting closer. I can't name him as there is nothing done yet.

"I would reassure fans of the commitment and the effort of the group of people who have backed this club.

"We think we have someone who will give the people the real lift they need and we will give him the budget he deserves. It has been hard in the transfer market. We are way behind, but I would hope by Monday I can say 70-30 we will have a world-class manager in place. The chances are I won't be in charge for the next match. I have been working very hard behind the scenes with my group to get a new manager and he can't come soon enough."

Having spent weeks talking to Martin O'Neill during the summer, Quinn turned his attention to Bolton's Sam Allardyce with O'Neill having signed as Aston Villa's new manager.

The Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside's determination to hang on to Allardyce is understandable, although it would be no surprise if the Black Cats have renewed their interest.

The former Rangers manager Alex McLeish was strongly linked with the vacant position, while Alan Curbishley, who left Charlton Athletic at the end of last season, is still available.

The former England and Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan was sounded out by the club before the Quinn consortium arrived, while Irishman Brian Kerr has also been touted.

The chairman's eagerness to get the right man is no surprise after a nightmare start to the new season, which plumbed new depths when Sunderland were beaten by Bury.

Kevin Phillips' decision to head for West Bromwich Albion instead of returning to Sunderland came as a huge blow, but was symptomatic of the difficulties Quinn has had in recruiting new signings without a proven manager in place.

He completed the capture of the French midfielder William Mocquet on Tuesday night and hopes to push through moves for the Luxembourg international defender Jeff Strasser and the Swedish winger Tobias Hysen this week.

But the influx of quality signings which fans hoped would follow the consortium's arrival has so far failed to materialise.