Whilst it wasn't surprising, the sacking of Paolo di Canio has left Sunderland in a tricky position.
Di Canio's methods may have been antiquated, but there's clearly a bit of an issue as far as player power goes at the Stadium of Light, and the Sunderland hierarchy now faces the prospect of trying to attract a new manager who is prepared to deal with the player power, work with an entirely new squad and improve the fortunes of a side who are rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table.
There have been a few names floated around as possible successors to di Canio, so let's take a quick look at four possible candidates for the vacant hotseat on Wearside.
1) Roberto di Matteo
Di Matteo has quickly been installed as the bookies favourite, and it's not hard to see why. Although he hails from the same land as di Canio, the Italian could not be more different in his managerial style. Whilst Di Canio rants and raves, di Matteo favours a rather calmer approach, and this could be precisely what is required as the Stadium of Light attempts to gain some stability after what has been a rocky year or so.
It's easy to see why Sunderland would be interested in procuring the Italian's services. After all, it was Roberto di Matteo's caretaker spell at Chelsea that brought owner Roman Abramovich the trophy that he coveted above all - the Champions League. Given that di Matteo has experience on that sort of level, he would almost certainly be a good appointment for the Wearside club, and if reports are to be believed, Sunderland have made him their number one target.
However, according to the Telegraph, di Matteo has doubts about accepting the job, and remains 'unconvinced' that it is the right job for him. Following a hefty payoff after his dismissal from Chelsea, the Italian has no real need to jump straight back into management, and it is believed that he is waiting for the right job to come along. The task for the Sunderland hierarchy is to convince di Matteo that this is the right job.
2) Tony Pulis
On paper, Pulis is not exactly the most inspiring choice. Okay, so the Welshman did get Stoke promoted, and okay, so Stoke have been in the Premier League for a number of seasons now.
However, Pulis struggled in the latter years of his reign at the Britannia Stadium, and his style of football left a lot to be desired. Despite considerable investment, Pulis failed to help Stoke progress and they had actually regressed to the point where they were very nearly relegated last season.
They weren't relegated, but if Sunderland have ambitions higher than a relegation scrap, then Pulis is not the man for them.
Nevertheless, he is a candidate, and the Sunderland board might decide that ex-Stoke boss is a safe pair of hands until such a time that they can attract a more illustrious manager.
3) Steve McClaren
The ex-England boss has had a decent bit of club success since his disastrous 16 months in charge of the national side.
It should also not be forgotten that prior to his time in charge of the Three Lions, McClaren did a great job with Middlesborough, leading them to a UEFA Cup final. All this was of course also subsequent to his time as assistant to none other than Sir Alex Ferguson. McClaren knows the game inside out, and Sunderland may well be a perfect route back into the Premier League for the Yorkshireman.
However, given his recent failings at Nottingham Forest and FC Twente, it is probably unlikely that Sunderland would talk a punt on McClaren and therefore he must be regarded as an outside choice.
4) Gianfranco Zola
Probably the most fashionable name on this list, Zola is loved in English football, and if Sunderland fans could pick, then Zola may well come out on top of a lot of people's lists.
After a difficult spell in charge of West Ham, Zola has rebuilt his reputation at Watford, and fans of the Hornets will no doubt be desperate not to lose the managerial talents of the little Italian.
Given Zola's relative lack of Premier League experience, it seems unlikely that they will, with the Sunderland board probably aware that Zola might not be ideal for a relegation dogfight.
The appointment of the Italian is nevertheless a distinct possibility, although reports claim he has reservations.
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