Yesterday the inevitable happened and we "parted ways" with Steve Bruce. Now of course starts the hunt for a new man to take us into seas Brucey couldn't navigate.
It's fun for us to guess who would come in and take us to the next level, and discuss the various merits of each candidate, whilst I'm sure the same talks are happening somewhere on Wearside but with a much more serious tone.
So that's enough intro, I think it's fairly obvious what this post's going to be about... We're having a look at the runners and riders in the frame for the prized position, and also added a poll to let you have your say. So even if you don't want to read all this, just skim to the bottom and vote...
The Realistic Favourites
If you're looking at the bookies, as I am right now in another window, it would appear to be even more of a two horse race than the SPL. It's the out of work Martin O'Neill, or the our of work Mark Hughes.
I'll start with Martin O'Neill, and whilst he's a realistic favourite. O'Neill would certainly unite the fans, that is almost undoubted, but on the field, is it the right choice? He's been out of work for some time, and you have to wonder whether he's still "got it"... That said, when he was good, he was very good, and could easily get teams of our size to the top ten on a consistent basis. To go back though, he comes up every time there's a job. I think some of us have been calling for O'Neill since Peter Reid left, and for whatever reason he's not interested. A managerial Peter Crouch if you will. I also think he's in there because he's linked with every job ever. As someone pointed out on Twitter rather dryly... Need a manager? Martin O'Neill. Santa needs an elf? Martin O'Neill.
Mark Hughes is one who piques my interest. Now, it seems on the surface he quit Fulham because he thought he had a shot at Villa before they inexplicably hired Alex McLeish, and I'd remain worried that he would do the same to us. There's also the fact that when you get someone like Hughes, you also get the despicable-shitweasel Kia Joorabchian too. Hopefully we can put him in some sort of cage in the basement, as Hughes' managerial record is pretty impressive. A game away form taking Wales to Euro 2004, took Blackburn to high finishes and Europe, and similarly Fulham. I think most fans would be delighted if he could do the same for us.
Without Doubt Yes! But It's A Bloody Long Shot...
Following that group, there's a group of outsiders that I think most of us would take without question. Basically I see their odds as much lower than they should be. These lot represent what would be a massive coup, so I think we need to take a more realistic stance on them, even though most of us would like them.
Leading that pack is Rafa Benitez. Again he's out of work and supposedly seeking '"a project" which we certainly would represent, however I'm sure Mr Benitez has had, and will receive better offers than ourselves. It would be interesting to have someone like that at the club, who would offer an entirely new angle on things.
Also in this group I'd plonk Carlo Ancelotti. If he wanted the job, I'd drive to Italy or wherever he's residing and bring him here myself. Without wanting to belittle our own club, I think he's just a tad out of our league. It would be a huge coup to have a manager of such pedigree at the club though.
David Moyes is another one I'd be starting the motor up for. I think his time to go to a truly top team has passed, and we do manage to have two things over Everton, even if we are behind them as a squad of players - money and a stadium. Two things high on Moyes' wishlist, and it would give him the perfect opportunity to reignite himself.
Stick on this list too Gus Poyet. Seems on to a good thing at Brighton, and sensible enough not to mess it up. Known for an attractive and attacking style of football, I can't help but wonder if he's really got enough experience on the managerial side of things. I'd still have him though.
I Really Hope It's Not...
Conversely in that pack of of names who have low odds, there's also some who I hope to God aren't under consideration.
Starting right off the bat with another who is linked to every job ever, Alan Curbishley. Alan's time came and went years ago. If you'd asked me in 2002-ish, maybe just maybe. However he's seemed to want to get back into football and failed every time since losing his job at West Ham United. Alan would be a Steve Bruce II for me - Nice fella, but ultimately limited as a manager.
There's also the current caretaker in the running too, Eric Black. I don't think he has any chance of taking it full-time, but even so, I'd rather we wiped the floor with Bruce and his backroom staff and started a fresh. Black's spent many years under Bruce and followed him wherever. I can't imagine there's any fresh thinking there.
Lee Clark's there too. Whilst he is doing wonders at Huddersfield, No. Just no. Imagine it going wrong, and it could well do so due to inexperience. Think of the abuse Brucey got, times it by the square root of Lawrie McMenemey, add a million and you're still not even close to what he'd get, such is football.
Another without much experience is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He may well turn out to be a fine manager, and he's done pretty well at Molde in Norway, but the Tippeligaen and the Premier League are two ccmpletely different animals. Even Sir Alex told him to stay at Molde and get some experience. For the benefit of everyone, do it Ole.
This list really is quite exhaustive, so to rattle off some more quick no-no's, starting with Bob Bradley. I don't know why he's even in the running, recently appointed manager of Egypt, but I suppose he's American and that's why he's on the list.
Sven Goran Eriksson is another linked, but luckily the human money-magnet is off to Iran, or Brazil. I'm not sure who's made the highest bid yet, but he's sure to take it.
As for Dave Jones it's also a no. I dunno what it is about him but I've just never liked him. I'd like to think we can aim higher.
Similar could be said of Ian Holloway. Another I've just randomly never been a fan of. Sure, Blackpool played some pretty extraordinary football in their short-lived Premier League stint, but I dunno. I think it's the quote-o-matic nature of him that glosses over a wealth of flaws. Lets not forget they were relegated, seemingly lacking a Plan B.
Well, I Can See Where Ellis Is Coming From...
The penultimate section is managers who I'm not fond of, but I can see where Ellis Short is coming from if they were appointed. These are by no means my first choice, and possibly not even second choice, but there's something there.
I'll start it off quite shockingly with Steve McClaren. Yes we've all belittled the brolly-waving wally before, but I live in hope that during his time abroad he picked up some tips, some new ways of thinking and a new attitude. That's the positive side anyway. The downside involved umbrellas and his less than stellar reputation on these shores.
Another would be Roberto Di Matteo. Perhaps looking for a way out of the sinking ship at Chelsea, and was adjudged by many to have been wrongfully ousted at West Brom. A second chance for him wouldn't be the end fo the world.
Similar to Bobby DM is Stuart Pearce. It would take something to prize him from the England U21 camp, but maybe he would be interested in the day to day running of club football once again. He's done very well with the U21's, and if he's commanded there respect we could see a more youthful and exciting time at SAFC. The downside of course is he hasn't been at club level for a while, and perhaps he doesn't want it. Or see's himself in a good position to take over from Capello one day.
Paul Lambert doesn't seem likely to leave Norwich with them winning so many plaudits at the moment. I don't see what Roberto Martinez has done to warrant inclusion on the list, whilst Nigel Adkins could do with a bit more experience.
Give Your Head A Shake
On lists too you'll also see Peter Reid, Roy Keane and Guus Hiddink. Shake your head vigorously until you rejoin the real world if you think any of these are coming back/near to Sunderland. Thanks Peter and Roy for the memories, but lets leave it there. Guus, sure, you want the job? Why not draft in Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson as assistants. It's just so likely.
And that be it. Why not leave a comment, or vote in the poll attached for who you want to see as the next manager of our beloved club...