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Who - or what - got to Derek? 11th hour swift and decisive rejection hints at major problems at Sunderland

Whilst the headline sounds like a 90s episode of Corrie, it's clear that something is seriously wrong within Sunderland AFC - someone or something surely gave Derek McInnes the jitters and caused him to decisively reject the manager's job at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland v Stoke City - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

From sounded-out favourite for the job to compensation-agreed cert, Derek McInnes' last minute rejection of the manager's position at Sunderland has bigger implications than just the bloke from Aberdeen having a change of heart.

Celtic v Aberdeen - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership
Derek McInnes
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

And not just because whoever comes in now will know they're a clear second-choice. Nope, the Dons boss rejecting a huge increase in salary and platform on which to sell himself as a football manager suggests there is either something fundamentally wrong with the job, something fundamentally wrong with the club or something fundamentally wrong with the recruitment process. Or more likely, all three.

So who - or what - nobbled Derek McInnes?

The man himself

From day one McInnes headed the betting for the job at the Stadium of Light. And from day one, the Aberdeen manager appeared to be interested in it.

He may not have uttered so publicly and the Scottish Premier League club continued to insist throughout Sunderland's on-off pursuit that their man was busy plotting for next season in Scotland, but Derek McInnes fancied the job on Wearside - there's no doubt about it.

To have agreed compensation with Aberdeen and been given permission to formally speak with McInnes, Sunderland will have been virtually certain of making an appointment today. Managers don't refuse jobs once those processes are complete.

Black Cats' chief executive Martin Bain will be privately seething that time and effort to line up their chosen man has been wasted in this way coupled with the public humiliation which has washed up on the club again.

Whether McInnes bottled the move, who knows. The 45-year-old has had his fingers burned in England before and with a family settled in Scotland perhaps, as a man, he suffered a sudden and conclusive case of cold feet and couldn't bring himself to risk it.


McInnes now looks ahead to next season at Aberdeen from a position of supreme strength. He turned down a higher-paid, higher-profile job to stay at Pittodrie and supporters in the Highlands will hold him in huge regard now.

But the Dons' new majority shareholder Dave Cormack has arrived back at the club with a statement to make and a wad of cash to throw at it. Chucking that money at McInnes to keep him was precisely the way to stick it to the English and ride into town as the saviour.

And now the man himself continues on his merry way no doubt with assurances over the business he can do to rebuild a squad which will be plucked of its best players in the summer and with a Europa League campaign to plot.

The 'takeover'

Widely postulated as a factor for the rejection, this week's takeover talk has likely changed the landscape in the recruitment process.

With few details yet available as to the identity of the bidders or even how serious they are beyond a few snippets in the newspapers, it's difficult to predict the impact this takeover talk will have now on the hunt for a new boss.

It is entirely possible that having agreed to enter negotiations, further information on the takeover process or identity of the bidders was revealed and fearing for his future if he committed to a club in the midst of such processes, McInnes felt he couldn't take the leap.

The toxic image or the rotten core

Finally, is there just someone or something, some group or some rotten core, some image or something fundamentally toxic which unnerved McInnes or 'got' to him?

It may sound conspiratorial, over-dramatic even. But this is Sunderland. The club where something really is wrong, toxic, broken, unstable. The club at which no one appointed to any position makes a success of anything.

Was McInnes warned off the job by his peers in football? He wouldn't be the first.

And a certain Scot - with many high-profile friends in the industry and in the media - has just wandered away from the Stadium of Light with his reputation fatally ruined, no pay-off in his pocket - and who some suggest - is currently holidaying in Florida.

This isn't the Godfather. but was McInnes 'got to' to by someone? It doesn't bode well.

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