Former Chelsea boss Roberto di Matteo has been installed as the bookies' favourite to replace axed Sunderland boss Paulo di Canio, after less than six months in charge.

Di Canio’s compatriot, a Champions League winner from his time in charge of the Blues, has been out of work since leaving Stamford Bridge, TV appearances aside.

Any appointment is not expected until at least next week, with coach Kevin Ball being placed in charge for the next two games. The Black Cats face Peterborough on Tuesday in the Capital One Cup before high-flying Liverpool visit the Stadium of Light on Sunday.

Saturday’s 3-0 loss to West Brom appears to have been the final straw in a turbulent time for the Sunderland board. Di Canio’s abrupt dismissal will have surprised few, after a summer that saw numerous fallouts with players, perhaps most notably Titus Bramble, who accused the Italian of having an “overinflated ego” and claimed he had banned mobile phones, ketchup and singing from the Wearside training ground.

And to think it could have all been so different when Di Canio got off to a flyer with a 3-0 victory against arch rivals Newcastle.

Replacing the popular Martin O’Neill at the helm was never going to be an easy task, particularly once Di Canio had alienated his players to such an extent that the summer transfer window saw a complete revamp of the squad, with almost a dozen new faces replacing a dozen old ones that decided the Di Canio way of life was not for them.

It took a huge amount of resilience and determination – or stubbornness – for Di Canio to remain as long as he did amid calls for him to be sacked after just a week due to his controversial political views.

Former Brighton manager Gus Poyet and Tony Pulis, formerly of Stoke, are also believed to be in the run-in to succeed Di Canio.

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