Dick Advocaat rejects the chance to stay on as Sunderland manager

The Dutchman is retiring from full-time club management, with Sam Allardyce the early favourite to take over at the Stadium of Light

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Sunderland are searching for a new manager after Dick Advocaat confirmed that he was leaving the club.

Advocaat guided the club to Premier League safety and was offered a two-year deal to stay and rebuild, but he confirmed in a statement that he would not take the job and would instead retire from full-time club management.

Sam Allardyce is the early favourite to take over, the week after his West Ham United contract was allowed to expire as he left Upton Park. Steve McClaren would be another strong candidate and would also be available, having just left Derby County.

Slavisa Jokanovic, who has parted company with Watford despite leading them into the Premier League, is thought to be interested in the job, having failed to agree a new deal at Vicarage Road.

The Sunderland owner, Ellis Short, is looking for his eighth manager to take control of the club since 2008. He had hoped to retain Advocaat in the role after his rescue job which kept Sunderland in the top flight.

Advocaat restored belief and unity to the Sunderland squad, guiding them on a five-match unbeaten run which delivered the points required to propel them out of the relegation zone.

Sunderland strikers Steven Fletcher and Jermain Defoe said in the aftermath of the club’s 0-0 draw at Arsenal – which earned the point that kept them up – that they would like Advocaat to stay in the job long-term.

But Advocaat is 67 years old and has family in the Netherlands. He decided this week that he does not want the responsibility of full-time Premier League management. Some of Advocaat’s coaching staff – Bert van Lingen and Zeljko Petrovic – will go with him, while others who joined recently, including goalkeeping coach Adrian Tucker, have signed terms to remain.

Advocaat, who has won the Russian, Dutch and Scottish titles in a glittering career in coaching, said: “At certain moments in your life, you have to make a decision and I am almost 68 years old now.

“A number of clubs contacted me but the decision was always Sunderland or nobody. We gave everything in our time there and achieved what we set out to. Sunderland has been one of the highlights of my career.”

Short put on record his gratitude to Advocaat for keeping the club in the top flight.

“Although I am extremely disappointed, I understand and absolutely respect his decision,” said the American owner.

“In his brief time here, he made a real impact and lifted the club with his experience and enthusiasm. We will always be grateful to him for what he achieved.”