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Sunderland manager hunt appears to be floundering; dwindling optimism & more names to rule out

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There are more names to cross off the list of potential Sunderland managers, and more reasons to suspect this manager hunt isn’t going particularly well.

Sunderland v Fulham - FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

So, there are more names of potential managers to cross off the list - Paolo Montero isn’t coming to Sunderland, and neither is Harry Redknapp.... at least so the local press “understand” as of this morning.

Who would have thought that the original chequebook manager and a Juventus legend with limited management experience would not figure prominently on Martin Bain’s short-list, as the 14-day point since Simon Grayson’s sacking looms large.

Montero and Redknapp join the ‘crossed-off’ list alongside Roy Keane, who last week distanced himself from talk linking him with a return to Wearside, and Sam Allardyce, who is eyeing bigger prizes.

Real Madrid Legends v Juventus Veterans - Corazon Classic Match 2013
Rest easy, Juve legend Montero isn’t coming
Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Billy McKinlay has jumped ship to reacquaint himself with David Moyes down at West Ham, leaving Sunderland with just Robbie Stockdale as sole caretaker boss aided by a senior coaching staff consisting of U23 manager Elliott Dickman and goalie trainer Adrian Tucker.

Presumably Kevin Ball is on hand to help out if needed, and so too is John O’Shea. After all, the veteran defender has his coaching badges, though he’s presently preoccupied with the Republic of Ireland squad preparing for tomorrow’s crucial World Cup qualifying play-off.

Fear not though - reports in the Sunderland Echo this morning claim Martin Bain is being assisted in this most crucial of manager hunts by recently appointed Academy manager Jimmy Sinclair.

Yes, that’s Jimmy Sinclair whose stint as assistant manager at Aston Villa was the pinnacle of a coaching career generally spent in youth football at the likes of Queens Park and, obviously, Glasgow Rangers.

Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League
The Stadium of Light
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

We’re at the stage where no one outside of the CEO’s office appears to have a clue what’s going on at the Stadium of Light, and the only reports emanating from anywhere are those from prospective candidates distancing themselves from the vacancy, or from journalists confirming that folks on the bookies’ shortlists have not been contacted by Sunderland.

Literally, the stock phrase in the news now is that Aitor Karanka and Paul Heckingbottom remain the leading contenders, with Ally McCoist as the outsider supposedly favoured by Martin Bain.

No doubt Stockdale will take charge of Sunderland for the visit of Millwall this weekend.

The bonus time afforded by the international break has now passed and the rapid, brutal dismissal of Simon Grayson moments after that draw against Bolton now looks to have been little more than an odd display of showboating - perhaps for the benefit of the documentary makers currently filming at the Stadium of Light.

Optimists amongst us may be pointing out that the delay might be that Sunderland are awaiting completion of the World Cup Play-offs to make an approach for one of the managers involved - Martin or Michael O’Neill, perhaps.

But in truth, enthusiasm has evaporated amongst the faithful now - evidenced by the fact little over 200 tickets have been told for Sunderland’s next away game - a trip to Aston Villa a week tomorrow - a game which should have been one of the more eagerly anticipated road trips of the season.