Sunderland will take time over crucial decision

Sam Allardyce
Sam Allardyce

Sunderland won’t be rushed into replacing Dick Advocaat as they look to secure the right manager tasked with saving the club from relegation.

Advocaat left the club in the wake of the 2-2 draw with West Ham United and the search for a replacement is under way but the Echo understands no appointment is imminent.

His exit is more complicated than Advocaat’s but Congerton’s 18-month spell at Sunderland has effectively come to an end.

Sam Allardyce remains the bookies’ and fans’ favourite but the Black Cats hierarchy are yet to make contact with the former West Ham boss, although he has not ruled out a return to Sunderland.

Burnley boss Sean Dyche, free agent Nigel Pearson and David Moyes - currently managing Real Sociedad in Spain - remain among the favourites for the post.

Dyche, whose odds are as short as 3/1, has distanced himself from the speculation.

He said: “It’s nothing to do with me. I know nothing of it. It’s a story from another paper. Somehow I’m engaged in that. I’m not. I’m here, I want to win games, I’m getting on with it.”

The international break has at least given the Sunderland board time to assess their options ahead of the next Premier League fixture at West Bromwich Albion a week on Saturday.

Senior professional development coach Robbie Stockdale has been placed in caretaker charge, with support from first team coach Paul Bracewell.

The pair are looking after those players not away on international duty, following the departure of 68-year-old Advocaat.

The Dutchman lifted the lid on the reasons behind his resignation, admitting his Sunderland squad were not good enough to avoid another scrap for survival.

It has left Sunderland searching for their sixth manager in just four years, with the search further complicated by the fact that sporting director Lee Congerton is understood to be working his period of notice.

His exit is more complicated than Advocaat’s but Congerton’s 18-month spell at Sunderland has effectively come to an end.

The departure of Congerton - linked with a move back to Germany with Borussia Monchengladbach - would remove one potential obstacle to Allardyce being appointed given he has previously expressed a reluctance to work in a director of football model.

The free agent, understood to have flown to Spain on Sunday night, left West Ham in May and is keen to get back into management if the right gig comes along.

But should he be offered the job of keeping 19th-placed Sunderland up it has come at a bad time given his autobiography is published this month.

Allardyce is due to return to England from Spain later this month for a tour to promote his book, which is entitled ‘Big Sam: My Autobiography’.

The former Newcastle United manager watched Sunderland’s 2-2 home against West Ham United on Saturday while in Ireland working for broadcaster Setanta.

And the 60-year-old – who had spells at Sunderland as a player and coach earlier in his career – was left in no doubt that the biggest issue is a defence which has leaked 18 goals in eight games.