As I come to write this it's fairly clear it's going to be Paolo Di Canio. My initial reaction to that news is "well that's bollocksed up the article series" and "I think we could have done better". So for what it's worth, here's where my mindset was at a few hours ago with regards to who we should get in.
1. Roberto Martinez
Obviously not going to happen for the reasons above. However this is the man I'd have moved heaven and earth to get to the club.
There's a tendency now to be looking for a manager who will have style, a game-plan, ideas and all that which when boiled down is basically just "around 40-year old and foreign". The man heading that bunch is Martinez who has long been linked with moves away.
Of course it would have been very difficult to get Martinez to jump from one sinking ship to another, but Dave Whelan would probably sell his own daughter if he got a good enough deal.
Martinez could have saved us this season, and built for the future. He'd have been an incredible appointment.
2. Gus Poyet
Basically in exactly the same vein as above, Poyet comes into contention for me. Whilst he's second choice here, he's the more realistic first choice.
If reports are true, he was very close to going to Reading, so it's known that he's available, and given everyone is tipping him for a long and successful future in the game along with lauding him for his style and panache, I'd have been very happy to see him on the touchline, and leading us to a brighter future.
We often talk about signing players whom you can build a team around but Poyet would be a manager you could also build a team around. Hard to see him as anything other than the perfect fit at Sunderland.
3. Roberto Di Matteo
Also matches the criteria from above and also a realistic appointment. He did very well at Chelsea, and he had the ability to transform the dressing room into one united being aiming towards the same goal - which against all odds was achieved in Champions League glory.
We could do with the same thing here as we look to pull away from the relegation, and if he could do so he'd have likely been hailed just as much of a hero as he is at Stamford Bridge.
Plenty of people can point to a so-so record at both West Brom and MK Dons, and with just cause, but more recently he's been in the ascendency, and with a chip on his shoulder and a point to prove I think he could have done good things here.
If I was in the market for a young and in-vogue Italian, this is where my money would have been spent. It would have been a lot less of a gamble too.
Of course this is considerably out of date now given it's unlikely Paolo Di Canio will turn us down, but it had been started so needed finishing. Regarding the man we appear to have made our top target, I'm far from impressed with the appointment but it's something we're going to have to live with and give him the benefit of doubt... of which there's a lot!