Paul Heckingbottom, Aitor Karanka and the French firefighter - latest Sunderland manager news

Sunderland’s search for a new manager continues, 10 days after the departure of Simon Grayson.

Paul Heckingbottom, whose name has been discussed amongst the Sunderland hierarchy, was the big mover in yesterday’s betting market, and is very highly rated in the game after a stunning start to his managerial career with Barnsley.

Paul Heckingbottom

Paul Heckingbottom

Heckingbottom, who is on a 12 month rolling contract at Oakwell, presided over the Tykes promotion to the Championship before a superb debut campaign in the second tier last season.

He has regularly reaffirmed his happiness with life at his boyhood club, saying last week: “We had it last season and it’s part and parcel, when things are going well that’s what you want, if next January there’s X, Y, Z clubs linked with our players then it means we’re doing something right.

“It’s flattering in that respect that things are going well and you can do a job, but other than that, that is it.”

Aitor Karanka remains the bookmakers favourite but as of Thursday morning there had been no contact between the two parties.

Karanka is out of work and would be open to talks but having turned down the opportunity to manage Birmingham and La Liga side Alaves, Sunderland would face a difficult challenge convincing the Spaniard to take the role.

A left-field applicant for the job is French coach Franck Passi.

The Gazette understands the 51-year-old is keen on the job, having left Lille in the summer where he spent a successful spell as caretaker manager.

Passi has also had a time as manager of Marseille, and built a reputation as a managerial firefighter in France, where he also spent a lot of time as an assistant manager. He now wants a job as a No 1 and has contacted Sunderland about the vacancy.

The former defender finished his career in England, playing under Sam Allardyce at Bolton.