Sunderland have gone for the short-term fix in appointing Dick Advocaat as manager until the end of the season after sacking Gus Poyet. But who will be given the job in the long term?
Advocaat, irrespective of whether Sunderland stay in the Premier League, is unlikely to remain at the Stadium of Light and so the search is underway for Poyet’s more permanent replacement.
Looking for a new manager is becoming something of a habit on Wearside and their quest to finally find the right person could hinge on whether they are a Premier League or Championship club next season. If you want to get a feel for the possible scenarios of relegation, see what the bookies at betfair have to say.
Either way it is going to be a challenging rebuilding job and here are four contenders for the role.
A popular choice with supporters to become manager, it seems that Allardyce’s past spell as Newcastle boss wouldn’t count against him. The fact he was only at Newcastle for half a season probably helps and he has already managed local rivals before after his stints at Bolton and Blackburn. He is out of contract at West Ham at the end of the season and his future at Upton Park is uncertain. He turned down the Sunderland job in 2006 when Roy Keane was appointed and then showed an interest when the Irishman left in 2008. He also had a season at Sunderland as a player and was on the coaching team when Peter Reid was manager. His CV includes promotion winning campaigns, should Sunderland be relegated, and he knows how to get the best out of players. He has vast experience in helping clubs achieve above expectations and he seems a safe bet to bring some stability to the club. The issue is whether he would want to devolve so much power in the transfer market upstairs given the occasional disagreements there have been with the West Ham owners regarding signings.
Clement has built up an impressive reputation as a coach over the past few years and appears destined to become a manager in his own right at some point. He is currently Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant at Real Madrid after also performing the same role at Paris Saint-Germain. He also worked with Ancelotti at Chelsea and had a brief spell as a coach at Blackburn. Clement was linked with the QPR vacancy recently, but he stated he would not leave Real mid-season. Come the end of the season, an approach from Sunderland could lead to a different decision, especially with Ancelotti under a little pressure at the Santiago Bernabeu. He will have learned plenty from the likes of Ancelotti and Guus Hiddink, which is likely to be important given the size of the job which awaits the next Sunderland manager. Clement would fit in with the structure at Sunderland, but would he be willing to start his managerial career in the Championship?
McClaren has already enjoyed one successful spell as a manager in the north east after spending five years in charge of Middlesbrough, during which time he won the League Cup. He then had a disastrous time as England coach due to his failure to qualify for Euro 2008 and there is the suspicion that he is still dogged by that stigma, despite his subsequent achievements. His work in leading FC Twente to the Eredivisie title in 2010 should not be underestimated, even allowing for the subsequent disappointing spells at Wolfsburg and Nottingham Forest. Now in charge at Derby, McClaren was unlucky not to lead the club to promotion last season when they were the better team in the play-off final before being beaten by a late QPR winner. Derby are again in the mix for promotion this season and events over the next few weeks are likely to dictate whether McClaren would leave the iPro Stadium for the Stadium of Light. Sunderland are a bigger club than Derby, but would that be enough to persuade McClaren to remain a Championship manager?
The one thing you would be sure of with Laudrup is that Sunderland would at least try to play attractive football. His reputation as a player and as a manager would also help in the recruitment of better quality players, which has been problematic for Sunderland in the past. Laudrup won the League Cup with Swansea in 2013 and is currently in charge of Lekhwiya in Qatar. He was heavily linked with the QPR job in February, but it was confirmed that he would not leave his current post midway through the season. He demonstrated with Swansea that he can take over a team that is on an upward curve and continue that progress. The challenge at Sunderland would be vastly different as he would be coming into a club that has largely been in the doldrums, aside from the derby wins over Newcastle. He has the force of personality to make an impact and he would command the respect of the players. It is unlikely to be a cheap appointment as you could see Laudrup wanting to completely overhaul the Sunderland squad, but he would be warmly welcomed by the fans.