Sunderland could make firefighter appointment before next game

Sunderland chief executive Martin Bain.
Sunderland chief executive Martin Bain.

Sunderland remain hopeful of appointing a new manager before the crucial Championship clash with Millwall next week, with a short-term appointment a possibility.

Martin Bain is assessing candidates as he searches for a boss with the experience and stature to improve Sunderland’s wretched record in the Championship this season and galvanise a club low on morale.

Simon Grayson was appointed this summer in the hope that his experience of managing in the Football League would help stabilise the Black Cats, but his struggles could see a change of approach this time around, despite the likes of Paul Hurst and Nathan Jones of Shrewsbury and Luton Town being linked with the role.

A short-term appointment, perhaps until the end of the current season, is a possibility with the Black Cats six points adrift of 20th in the table and in desperate need of an immediate uplift.

Former Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka was installed as the bookmakers favourite for the role on Tuesday, and is thought to be open to talks over the vacant position.

With little immediate prospect of investment in the playing squad, however, it remains to be seen whether the Spaniard could be convinced to take the job having turned down interest from Birmingham and Alaves in recent times.

Other names strongly linked with the role are Ally McCoist, the former Rangers manager and Sunderland player who retains strong ties with the city and current chief executive, and former Manchester United man Phil Neville.

Neville is thought to have turned down a role in David Moyes’ backroom staff as he seeks to pursue his own career in management, and told the BBC at the weekend: “I wonder whether it can get any lower than it is at the moment [at Sunderland]. The training ground is as good as any Premier League club.

“It needs somebody to go in there, grab those young players, be a little bit aggressive and give them something.

“The place needs lifting. There is no positivity. I think it is an attractive proposition. There are British coaches in the lower leagues who would jump at the opportunity to manage Sunderland.”