Sunderland today unveiled Mick McCarthy as their new manager. He has returned to club management after bringing down the curtain on his six-year tenure as Republic of Ireland manager last November.
The 44-year-old, whose only other job in management was at Millwall between 1991 and 1996, has succeeded Howard Wilkinson in the hotseat at the Stadium of Light.
Wilkinson and his assistant Steve Cotterill were sacked on Monday evening after collecting just two wins from 20 league games.
McCarthy, who has never managed in the Premiership, now faces an almighty task to keep the Black Cats in the top flight with nine games remaining. They are seven points adrift of safety with the visit of fellow strugglers Bolton next up on Saturday.
"I'm excited to be joining Sunderland and am up for the challenge ahead," he told the club's official website, www.safc.com.
"In the short term we have nine remaining games this season and, of course, I will be concentrating on lifting the players to get the best possible results in these.
"I'm also excited about the long-term. This is a great club and it deserves success."
McCarthy, who guided the Republic to the World Cup finals in Japan and Korea last summer but fell out with, and eventually sent home, captain Roy Keane has signed a rolling contract on Wearside.
Sunderland vice-chairman John Fickling said: "It has been a difficult period for the club and its supporters but we're delighted to have secured the services of Mick McCarthy who is well respected in the world of football.
"We have made this change now because we feel it is in the best interests of the club and its supporters.
"It was important that we acted swiftly to secure the services of a manager who would undoubtedly have been pursued by several clubs during the summer months and by appointing Mick now, we are giving him the opportunity to get to know the players and the club and form a long-term development strategy for the summer and beyond.
"This decision is not about the last nine games or our Premiership survival - although this is important. It has been taken for the long term.
"We believe that today's appointment will be a crucial turning point and that Mick will halt the club's decline and revive our fortunes on the pitch.
"I hope all supporters will join me in welcoming Mick to Sunderland and get behind him and the team."
McCarthy said on Sky Sports News: "I am looking forward to working with everyone at the club.
"I know a few of the players. I looked at the place and everything about it is about passion. This is a proper football club.
"They have great supporters, everyone has a passion to see the club do well. Everything is right except the results on the field. That is what is important to me and everyone else here.
"That is my brief. It is down to me and the players and Ian Evans (assistant). We start at the training ground now.
"I am absolutely determined to try to keep Sunderland in the Premiership. It would be a remarkable achievement to do that.
"I'm told the team are having a difficulty playing at home. But the fans come to support the team. Hopefully we can give them something to shout about.
"I am not saying I am going to keep them up but I am going to try.
"I would like to think I would get a good response from the Ireland players who are here."
He added: "When I told my pals about the job every response from them was good. This is a great opportunity - that's the way I feel about it.
"I will be under pressure on Saturday (against Bolton) - no question. Those people who come on Saturday will be hoping for a good start but I would sooner be under pressure here than other places."
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