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We need to talk about Nigel - Clough for Sunderland boss looks increasingly possible

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Nigel Clough moved steadily up the betting stakes at the weekend to become second-favourite to be next Sunderland boss. Strip aside the romance of his surname, and the 51-year-old looks like being there or thereabouts.

Huddersfield Town v Burton Albion - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Without wishing to launch into a fresh round of romantic cliche, a Clough at the helm at Sunderland certainly has appeal.

And so it is that the Black Cats launch into this interview week with Nigel sitting as second-favourite to succeed David Moyes as manager at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

Nigel Clough may well be on the Sunderland short-list and after a managerial career which has somewhat flattered to deceive at times, the 51-year-old is again gaining recognition on a wider stage thanks to his exploits at 'plucky' Burton Albion.

Up here in the north east, Burton - upon their ascendancy to the Championship - became something of a standing joke for the red-and-white portion of our region to take a smirk at Newcastle upon the Magpies' descent into the second-tier in 2016.

"Rafa? Yeah... but he won't be able to do it at Burton on a wet Tuesday night" - you will recall of course. Shame the joke is on us now at Sunderland, but such is life.

There are several factors which will draw Sunderland to Clough - certainly relevant to the current position at the Stadium of Light.

Birmingham City v Burton Albion - Sky Bet Championship
Nigel Clough
Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

First is his reputation for managing on a tight and indeed reducing budget. The former Nottingham Forest and Liverpool player's most notable managerial spell came at Derby County in a near-four year stint. That was the beginning of the current post-Premier League era at Pride Park which followed relegation from the top-tier in 2008.

Good money had been chucked at an increasingly futile limp to relegation the year before Clough arrived. That eleven-point Derby season still spares Wearside blushes a little by having taken Sunderland's lowest point Premier League record which had been set three years prior.

Clough was appointed to the Pride Park post on the back of an impressive initial period at Burton in which he lifted the Staffordshire club to the summit of the Conference.

Once established at Derby with a clear mandate to restructure the dead wooded, bloated wage bill at the club his father had managed decades earlier, Clough oversaw a mixed spell with Play-off flirtations tending to fizzle out into mid-table mediocrity.

Derby County v West Bromwich Albion - Pre Season Friendly
Clough and his team at Derby County
Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

From there, Clough took the helm at Sheffield United and after missing out on promotion twice was relieved of his duties along with his entire backroom staff - members who have worked with him for years.

Second, Clough has proven himself to suffer no fool gladly. At Derby he came under moderate fire for a series of public criticisms of his players but his harsh public exterior did his own image little harm. The old Cloughie fire is certainly a genetic inheritance.

And quite frankly, whoever lingers in this Sunderland playing squad after the summer overhaul, the group who have seen off nine managers in nine years could sure use something of a firm hand. After all, it's only a fortnight ago that some of them reportedly refused to play for the club. No, Clough would surely stand for much of that.

Whether this is right job for Clough who knows - Sunderland would be taking a bit of a punt. The Brewers' boss turned down the Nottingham Forest gig in January and has recently cited that he felt it was the 'right thing to do' to remain loyal to Burton to secure their Championship status.

Burton Albion v Derby County: Sky Bet Championship
Clough with his players last season
Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

With that feat achieved, would the Sunderland-born boss feel now is the right time to move on? With ourselves, Hull, Middlesbrough, Norwich and Leeds still looking for a new manager in a limited talent-pool, Clough likely won't get a better summer in which to pick a relatively big job.

Admittedly Clough's appointment would send a statement about the state of Sunderland. It would cry something about slashing wage costs and stabilising this sinking ship.

He would need to bring with him his own backroom staff and there are hints that the man himself and his loyal team don't travel well outside of Burton after their mediocre excursions to Derby County and Sheffield United.

Whether Clough and his merry men would take the chance of leaping up again after being burnt at two 'bigger' jobs than Burton who knows - especially for a toxic club like Sunderland. But the constant lure that one day the right man with the right idea will again get the Stadium of Light bouncing again may be prove tempting for a Clough with a point to prove.