The announcement of Dick Advocaat's departure from Sunderland eight games into the Premier League season was of little surprise to the football world but was somewhat overshadowed by the axing of Brendan Rodgers by Liverpool.
Originally drafted in to save the Wearsiders from relegation last season, a miracle he somehow achieved, Advocaat was persuaded to take the job on a permanent basis in the summer. However, the club seemed reluctant to invest in the squad, with only £25 million being spent on incoming players, half that of their North-East neighbours and relegation rivals, Newcastle.
Staggeringly, over half of that sum was spent on bringing in Younes Kaboul and Fabio Borini who have been less than amazing so far this season. Loan signings of Yann M'Vila and DeAndre Yedlin along with permanent signing Jeremaine Lens looked to be impressive additions to the squad but needless to say Sunderland currently find themselves sitting 19th in the Premier League, still awaiting their first win.
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Sunderland now have 30 games left to save their Premier League status and the fortunes that come with it so they have to appoint the right manager. It will be interesting whether they go for a quick fix or a someone who can take them to the next level. David Moyes and Harry Redknapp have been the first notable managers to distance themselves from the Wearside vacancy but we assess the candidates still in the running:
Sam Allardyce - 9/4
It would be fair to say this candidate is an expert on Premier League survival, something that is a key aspect of Ellis Short's recruitment hunt. Often criticised for failing to entertain fans with dull football, Big Sam has enjoyed reasonably successful spells at Bolton, Blackburn and West Ham with an eight months to forget at Black Cats rivals Newcastle United.
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Such an appointment would be likely to pay off in the short-term with Premier League survival chances boosted but it would do little to excite the fans or lay down a foundation for improving the club on a long-term basis. Allardyce has been installed as an early favourite by the bookies but it's unclear whether he wishes to stay on his break from management.
Nigel Pearson - 9/4
Seen as the best thing to happen to Leicester since Gary Lineker, Pearson was bizarrely sacked in the summer after an impressive campaign in the Premier League. Having only won four games until April, Leicester went on an extraordinary run of winning seven of the remaining nine games to secure Premier League status, a similar story to Sunderland's past four seasons.
Pearson seems like an ideal candidate for Sunderland as he has experience keeping a fringe team in the Premier League and would be seen as a positive appointment, with the possibility of future mid-table finishes.
Sean Dyche - 14/1
Although the former Chesterfield defender failed to keep Burnley in the Premier League, he has received plenty of plaudits; rightly so, considering what he has achieved with Burnley to date. Sunderland would probably jump at the chance to appoint Dyche but the question is whether he would take the job.
With Burnley promotion favourites and Sunderland relegation favourites, he may think staying at Burnley would leave him with the best chance of managing in the Premier League come next August. Touted as a future England manager, the 44-year-old has made a promising start to his managerial career but his failure to keep Burnley in the first division may put off Sunderland for the time being.
Walter Mazzarri - 18/1
Somewhat of a surprise candidate, the Italian would certainly be a coup for the Black Cats given his impressive CV. However, having managed top teams Sampdoria, Napoli and Inter Milan, his lack of experience outside of Italy may count against him when applying for Premier League jobs. Sunderland need someone to retain their Premier League status so knowledge of the English system is surely a must. This would likely be a risky appointment but with high potential returns.
Paul Lambert - 20/1
A forgotten man by many since his departure from Villa Park where he had a fairly dismal spell, Paul Lambert may make a return to the Premier League with the Black Cats. Although the Scotsman may not be top of the list of candidates, Ellis Short may be left with little other choice, which may be a blessing in disguise.
He has never been relegated from the top flight in four seasons after guiding Norwich to back to back promotions, an impressive feat in itself. Expect Sunderland to go in for Lambert should they fail to land Pearson or Allardyce.
The best of the rest include ambitious bids for Brendan Rodgers, Patrick Vieira, Michael Laudrup, Roberto Di Matteo and former fan favourite Kevin Phillips.
Who do you think should or will be Sunderland's next manager? Leave a comment below!
Betting odds have been taken from Sky Bet and are correct as of October 6 2015.
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