Claims tonight assert that Ally McCoist is no longer in the running to be named Sunderland boss, as reports from a fan engagement event at Barnsley suggest there has still been no official approach from the Black Cats hierarchy to talk to Paul Heckingbottom.
Journalist for The Sun, Alan Nixon, has suggested on social media that Sunderland’s initial discussions with McCoist hit a snag at the weekend and are no longer being pursued.
The former Sunderland striker had been thought to be chief executive Martin Bain’s preferred option to succeed Simon Grayson who was sacked from the manager’s post at the Stadium of Light over a fortnight ago.
The national newspaper reporter promised to provide a further update in the morning but most fans on Wearside will welcome the news McCoist is now unlikely to take charge of Sunderland.
Meanwhile, Barnsley owner Patrick Cryne has been addressing a Tykes supporter group this evening, with reports from fans at the event suggesting the software magnate opened the meeting to deny any official approach has yet been received from Sunderland to begin formal negotiations with Oakwell boss Heckingbottom.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill appears to remain an option for Sunderland, with Sky Sports this afternoon suggesting that the Black Cats have made some sort of approach for the man also wanted by the Scottish FA to take charge of the national team north of the border, and by Glasgow Rangers to replace axed Pedro Caixinha.
Heckingbottom seems to remain most likely to become Sunderland’s next boss however, with suggestions that the 40-year-old has privately told friends a deal to install him as manager is nearly done.
There were claims doing the rounds earlier that the Barnsley boss would take his time to mull over the move, amid concerns he would not be backed sufficiently in the January transfer window to secure Sunderland’s Championship status.
That must surely be any prospective manager’s prime concern, especially having witnessed Simon Grayson’s brief tenure quickly flounder after a summer spend of just £1.25m has the Wearsiders rooted to the bottom of the table with just one win all season.
The Black Cats recommence the Championship campaign with a home game against Millwall this Saturday.
Caretaker Robbie Stockdale is expected to remain in charge for the fixture having stepped in to oversee the first team following Grayson’s dismissal.
Billy McKinlay - who appeared alongside Stockdale in the Sunderland dugout for the Tees-Wear derby - has since hooked back up with David Moyes at West Ham.
The Stadium of Light hierarchy are thought to be keen to have a name confirmed to be the club’s sixth manager in four years by the time domestic football kicks off again at the weekend.