Dick Advocaat would have become one of the best-paid managers in the Premier League, plus been handed a healthy transfer kitty, if he had agreed to remain in charge of Sunderland.
Advocaat last night informed Sunderland that he would not be remaining at the Stadium of Light beyond his short-term contract after deciding to go ahead with his retirement plans, following discussions with his family.
Sunderland has been one of the highlights of my careerDick Advocaat
It is understood that Advocaat’s decision was solely based on personal circumstances after coming to the conclusion that he could no longer commit to the demands of full-time club football at 67.
Owner Ellis Short had been willing to offer Advocaat a bumper deal which would have seen him become the highest-paid manager in the club’s history, and among the top earners in the Premier League.
That came with the flexibility of a one, two or three-year deal after Short realised Advocaat’s value, following his stewardship of Sunderland to Premier League safety.
Short also agreed with Advocaat’s transfer recommendations that the club needed to bring in up to half-a-dozen “quality” signings this summer, players who were capable of immediately improving the standard of the starting XI.
But it wasn’t sufficient to tempt Advocaat to postpone his retirement plans after building a luxury home with his wife in their native Holland, albeit the ex-Holland manager is open to returning to international football.
“At certain moments in your life you have to make a decision and I am almost 68 years old now,” said Advocaat, who is happy to consult Sunderland on his successor.
“I would like to thank the chairman, Lee (Congerton, sporting director) the staff and, of course, the fans.
“We gave everything in our time there and achieved what we set out to. Sunderland has been one of the highlights of my career.”
Both Short and Congerton had begun to sense over the weekend that Advocaat would reject their overtures, despite him becoming increasingly tempted by Sunderland’s proposition over recent weeks.
But Advocaat’s rejection will still have come as a bitter blow after putting all of their efforts into keeping him at the club.
“Although I am extremely disappointed, I understand and absolutely respect his decision,” said Short.
“In his brief time here, he made a real impact and lifted the club with his experience and enthusiasm.
“We will always be grateful to him for what he achieved.”
Congerton added: “I know it was a tough decision for Dick to make, but he felt that he couldn’t commit to the intense rigours of club management on a longer-term basis and we respect his honesty.”
Congerton realises the pressure is now on him to land an alternative option while the clock is ticking, even though he has been making contingency plans for weeks.
With the close season noticeably short this year (the new Premier League season starts on August 8), Sunderland have only a month before they return to pre-season training, while, as Advocaat alluded to, the club still need up to half-a-dozen summer signings.
That will be difficult for Congerton to fulfil without a head coach at the helm.
Paul Clement had been on Congerton’s radar after the sacking of Gus Poyet and appointment of Advocaat last March, yet the Real Madrid assistant is on the verge of taking charge at Derby County, while Sunderland are concerned by the 43-year-old’s lack of managerial experience.