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Premier League

Strachan is not Sunderland target

There was a surge of money yesterday morning on Steve Bruce to be the next manager of Sunderland, though due to the dramatic developments at Celtic Park in the afternoon, newly resigned Gordon Strachan then became the bookmakers' favourite.

There is a vacancy because of Ricky Sbragia's decision to step down on Sunday following confirmation of the club's survival in the Premier League.

Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn said that the search for a successor would be "nice and controlled" and the club plans to take as much time as is necessary. Sunderland are only beginning to draw up a list of potential targets but it is understood Strachan does not feature on it. The club are open-minded as to whether the new manager is British or foreign.

There will be no public comments until Sunderland have dealt with internal matters. It is believed that Ellis Short, the American billionaire who owns 30 per cent of the club, is expected to push through a complete buy-out soon. They also want to sort out their bloated playing staff and evidence of that came yesterday when it was announced that Djibril Cissé will not be the subject of a bid to make his loan transfer permanent. "We wish Djibril well and thank him for his contribution to the club this season," Quinn said in a one-line message.

Sunderland paid Marseilles a €2m season-long loan fee for Cissé who scored 11 times and became a fans' favourite. But there has been just one goal in his last 12 appearances and it was obvious he and Kenwyne Jones did not gel as a partnership. Tottenham have expressed interest in both players. Marseilles value Cissé at around €10m.

Tal Ben-Haim, another on loan at the Stadium of Light, can be expected to return to Manchester City and there will be other out-of-contract squad players leaving such as David Connolly and Dwight Yorke.

Sunderland want to cut staff before bringing in a new manager, whoever that may be.

Bruce's work at Wigan has been impressive but some on Wearside are bothered by his Newcastle credentials. Bruce grew up in Newcastle and while he never played for the club, and is not popular on Tyneside due to his Manchester United connection, has not hidden his support for Newcastle.