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Cotterill linked to Sunderland job - someone call Howard; Injured Denayer brawling hours before game

Another name for the swelling list of those linked with the vacant Stadium of Light hot seat - and a familiar one - Steve Cotterill. But no suggestion so far that Howard Wilkinson might fancy joining him. And reports of Jason Denayer being caught up in a street brawl are unfortunate. Especially as it happened just hours before Sunderland's final game of the season - when he was supposed to be injured!

Sunderland assistant manager Steve Cotterill and manager Howard Wilkinson Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Steve Cotterill linked with vacant manager's job

He would be a unanimously panned choice for the job, but reports have suggested former Sunderland assistant Steve Cotterill could be in line to take the next step at the Stadium of Light and succeed David Moyes as manager.

West Bromwich Albion v Bristol City - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round
Steve Cotterill
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Heaven knows where the links originate but the story has so far appeared in the Birmingham Mail and the Bristol Post due to Cotterill's links to both those parts of the world.

The 52-year-old has most recently been assistant to Harry Redknapp at Birmingham - a short term stint to salvage the Blues' Championship status. Cotterill turned down the chance to stay on at St Andrews and has since been linked with a variety of jobs.

The former Bournemouth player has been mooted as a target for managerial vacancies at Watford and Swindon Town recently. Cotterill is presently rated as an outsider for the Sunderland job with odds at 25/1 for him to land the role.

Cotterill will forever be remembered on Wearside for his spell as assistant to Howard Wilkinson. The clueless duo lasted just five months, managing two wins in twenty league games - a slump which would end with Sunderland being relegated in 2003.

Howard Wilkinson and Steve Cotterill of Sunderland
Cotterill & Wilkinson during their doomed Sunderland tenure
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

That dismal drop from the Premier League was about on a par with this year's miserable failure and it would take Mick McCarthy a couple of seasons to return the club to the top-tier.

Cotterill arrived at the Stadium of Light in October 2002 with a tag of 'promising young coach' after lifting Cheltenham Town from the depths of the Southern League through the Conference and up to the old Second Division (now League One).

He then joined Stoke City but after only 13 games he left and has forever been christened 'Quitterill' in those parts after his rapid departure from the Potteries to join Sunderland.

An unremarkable but steady three-year spell at Burnley followed his spell on Wearside as well as a decent job at stabilising Portsmouth who were in financial turmoil at the time. From there Cotterill was manager at Nottingham Forest and Bristol Rovers with a stint as coach under Harry Redknapp at QPR before rejoining the veteran manager at Birmingham City with just three games of the recently completed season left.

Cotterill has never appeared to be a popular figure amongst fans at most of the clubs he's managed, but his coaching credentials and attention to detail have him rated as one ready to manage at a high level still.


Jason Denayer - injured but scrapping

So Jason Denayer was filmed kicking a man in the head outside a bar in Brussels. Not his finest moment and one which has attracted headlines this afternoon.

Crystal Palace v Sunderland - Premier League
Jason Denayer playing for Sunderland
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

But consider for a moment. The incident is said to have occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning - whilst his Sunderland teammates were tucked up in bed ahead of the afternoon's final Premier League fixture with Chelsea.

Denayer took no part in Sunderland's last two games of the season having been absent for the trip to Arsenal a few days earlier.

No real details of his injury were ever forthcoming - a thigh strain seems to be listed as the reason - but the 21-year-old Manchester City loanee also missed the Black Cats' home game in which relegation was confirmed against Bournemouth and managed just twenty minutes for the final fixture of the season to take place at the Stadium of Light against Swansea.

The player's agent has claimed he was permitted to take two days leave from Sunderland:

Jason had two days off this weekend, with the permission of his club. He decided to go out with his best mates. When they left the night club it all went wrong.

Video footage then shows the player kicking a man in the head in the midst of a street fight, an action his agent has stressed was a 'defensive' one. That description has done little to prevent jokes about Denayer's ability to "defend" and "fight" this season doing the rounds. Especially with a thigh strain.