Former Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn has urged owner Ellis Short to appoint a new manager who can “galvanise” the dressing room as he searches for the right man to replace the recently sacked Paolo Di Canio.
Di Canio was dismissed on Sunday evening after the 3-0 defeat to West Brom the day before, combined with a training ground spat, saw the Italian’s dismal reign at the Stadium of Light come to an end.
Former Chelsea manager and Champions League winner Roberto Di Matteo emerged as the initial frontrunner for the job, but he has since been overtaken by his Blues team-mate Gus Poyet, with the two playing together during their playing days at Stamford Bridge.
With the club bottom of the table, and without a league win this season (the 4-2 victory over MK Dons in the Capital One Cup remains their only triumph) Quinn believes the new man needs to pull the squad together again and establish a united front.
Speaking to talkSport, Quinn said: "Sunderland need someone to galvanise the dressing room.
"They need someone for the senior players to really buy into and show the younger players how it's done. They need someone charismatic to do that, someone who gives them a lift.
"They don't need someone who is going to go out and say, 'I'm in a hopeless situation here, these players are no good'. Sometimes managers try and buy themselves a bit of time by saying they have got a really tough job.
"They need a manager who believes in them, not someone who's going to do this because it's a journeyman type job, but someone who's going to roll their sleeves up, be charismatic and say, 'We're still fighting'."
Other names being linked with the job include former England boss Steve McClaren and current Watford manager Gianfranco Zola, although both the Italian, and Celtic’s Neil Lennon, have spoken to distance themselves from a Stadium of Light switch.
"Of course I am flattered that I am being considered for that, but I am really happy over here and I like what I am doing,” said Zola when speaking to Sky Sports about the possibility of leaving the Hornets.
"My growth as a manager has been massive and so I want to fulfil this task that I have over here."
While the airways are rife with talk over who will be the next boss of the Black Cats, development manager Kevin Ball will take charge of tonight’s third round encounter with Peterborough, and he could still be in charge when the Premier League resumes on the weekend as Liverpool arrive at the Stadium of Light.
However, Quinn feels that Ball should be considered for the job, regardless of how he gets on if he takes charge against the Reds, and Manchester United a week later.
"I'd give Kevin Ball a look at it,” claimed Quinn. “Nobody can expect Sunderland to win their next two Premier League matches against Liverpool and Man United because they're two of the best teams in the country.
"It would be wrong for people to turn around and say, 'You're on trial for the next two games'. The important things are the performance levels, the application and the dedication."
Short decided to show Di Canio the door in the same fashion as he did Martin O’Neill, by informing them they were relieved of their duties over the phone. Di Canio’s sacking means that Short is looking for his sixth manager in five years, and once his mind is made up that a manager spell at the club is done, he wastes little time in wielding the axe.
Martyn McFadden, editor of the Sunderland fanzine A Love Supreme, said: "If you look at some of the managers who have left under Short, he doesn't let the grass grow under his feet. When he decides he is going to sack someone, he just does it.
"After the first meeting he had with Roy Keane, Keane resigned; the first time the fans turned against Bruce after we lost against Wigan, he was sacked the next day; Martin O'Neill was not given a full season in charge of the club despite having an excellent CV, and we were never in a relegation place under him.
"We may have gone down [under] O'Neill, we will never know the answer to that, and it's the same thing with Di Canio. He may have turned out to be a good manager, but we will never know.
"Maybe that's just modern football. Maybe in 10 years' time, a manager will be sacked for losing the first game of the season 4-0."