Sam Allardyce is ready to cut short his sabbatical from football to take over at Sunderland. Dick Advocaat’s long-mooted departure from the Stadium of Light was confirmed, leaving the Black Cats seeking their fifth head coach in two and a half years.
Former Newcastle United manager Allardyce, 60, had planned to take a break from the game until Christmas following his summer exit from West Ham. But The Independent understands he is prepared to take on the task of Sunderland’s renewed battle against relegation and he is currently the bookies’ favourite for the position.
The Burnley manager Sean Dyche, who was on Sunderland’s radar in the summer, is also being considered.
The club’s sporting director Lee Congerton is drawing up a short list and Sunderland hope to have a new man in place by the time they travel to West Bromwich Albion on 17 October.
Advocaat said: “I feel it is the right time to do this – not for me, but for the club. I have made the decision to go after only eight games as I felt it was important to give everyone time turn things around, like we did last year. I remain on good terms with everyone at the club.”
Saturday’s 2-2 draw with West Ham moved Sunderland up a place in the Premier League table, above rivals Newcastle, but they have won just three of their last 23 Premier League games and are still in the relegation zone.
Who will be the next Sunderland manager?
Who will be the next Sunderland manager?
1/7 SAM ALLARDYCE
One of the safest pairs of hands around, the hugely experienced Allardyce, a former Sunderland defender, is available after his four-year spell at West Ham drew to a close at the end of last season. His proven track record with Bolton, Blackburn and the Hammers - if not Newcastle - make him a leading contender.
2/7 NIGEL PEARSON
Pearson performed miracles as Leicester won seven of their final nine games to secure their top-flight status at the end of last season. He is available after leaving the King Power Stadium during the summer.
3/7 SEAN DYCHE
Dyche's blend of positivity, realism and entertaining football during Burnley's ultimately unsuccessful bid to secure their Barclays Premier League status last season won him plenty of plaudits. He seems destined for bigger things, but his loyalty to the Clarets could prove an obstacle.
4/7 KARL ROBINSON
Robinson celebrated five years at the MK Dons helm in May and guided the club into the Sky Bet Championship last season as runners-up to Bristol City after twice missing out in the play-offs. At just 35, he is one of the rising stars of the managerial game.
5/7 JIMMY FLOYD HASSELBAINK
Former Leeds, Chelsea and Middlesbrough striker Hasselbaink led Burton to the League Two title last season after only taking over the club in November, and the promoted club currently top League One after 11 games. Like Di Canio and Poyet, he was a fine player and has enjoyed an encouraging start to his managerial career, but also like them, he is short on experience.
6/7 WALTER MAZZARRI
Former Inter Milan boss Mazzarri has been linked with Sunderland, as well as Liverpool, in recent days, and is reportedly learning English. However, the Black Cats had their fingers burnt the last time they appointed an Italian, albeit one without Mazzarri's curriculum vitae.
7/7 KEVIN PHILLIPS
A man who would need no introduction to fans who revered him for his goalscoring exploits in the red and white shirt, Phillips has embarked on a career in coaching since hanging up his boots. However, he is another whose lack of experience may count against him.
The club’s owner, Ellis Short, said he regretted Advocaat’s decision to leave. The 68-year-old Dutchman was brought into the club during their annual crisis in March. He oversaw three victories in nine games – against Newcastle, Southampton and Everton – and it was enough to scrape over the line.
He intended then to return to Holland, but was persuaded to remain on Weatside, a U-turn he has increasingly regretted.
Advocaat threatened to leave on the eve of the new season, unhappy with the club’s recruitment in the summer. He told the club to buy quality and to strengthen early but signings came late and the investment of around £25m was not what he had hoped for.
Ironically Sunderland’s best performance of the season, with the new players showing increased fitness, came in his final game. Sunderland should have beaten West Ham, having led 2-0 through Steven Fletcher and Jeremain Lens, only to concede on the stroke of half-time to Carl Jenkinson. Lens was sent off for a second bookable offence and Dimitri Payet equalised on the hour.
Short said: “I am truly saddened by Dick’s decision, but I respect him for his honesty and for doing what he feels is right for the club.
“He is a man of integrity and a true football person. He was hugely respectful of the club in taking this decision and he acted 100 per cent in our best interests. It is also testament to his character that he has forgone any kind of a financial settlement, something which is very unusual in football.
“While this isn’t a situation any of us envisaged being in, what is important now is that we regroup quickly and focus on the rest of the season.”Reuse content