Having sacked manager Jack Ross on Tuesday, Sunderland are yet to announce the Scot’s replacement in the Stadium of Light dugout, although given the importance of that decision, it is understandable that the Black Cats are taking their time over it.
After missing out on an immediate promotion back to the Championship via the play-offs last season, Sunderland have been heavily backed to get the job done this time around, meaning it is vital they make the right selection here.
So far, the League One side have reportedly requested permission to speak to five managers currently working at other clubs, while several others are said to have made contact with the club about the role.
It seems therefore, that Sunderland have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to appointing Ross’ successor.
Here, we’ve taken a look at who we think are the best three candidates to take on the role, from those who have been linked with a move to the Stadium of Light.
3. Gareth Ainsworth
According to recent reports, Sunderland have been granted permission to speak to Wycombe manager Ainsworth about their managerial position, and this may not be a bad appointment for the Black Cats.
It has been a successful time in charge at Adams Park for Ainsworth since taking over in 2012, with the 46-year-old leading them to promotion from League Two in 2018, and after guiding them to League One safety last season, currently has them second in the early third-tier standings this year.
With his ability to get a club over the line in a promotion battle and apparent capability at League One level, Ainsworth certainly seems to possess two things that Sunderland clearly need this season.
2. Daniel Stendel
One advantage of a move for Stendel by Sunderland, is that they would not have to negotiate with any other clubs, following the German’s departure from Barnsley on the same day Ross was given his marching orders from the Stadium of Light.
Having guided Barnsley to promotion from League One at the first time of asking during his debut campaign at Oakwell last season, Stendel is someone who does seem to have the know-how and adaptability required to make sure it is a successful promotion bid for Sunderland this time around.
Add to that the fact that he does seem to be a popular candidate amongst the Sunderland faithful, and it does seem as though this is an appointment that would go down well around the Stadium of Light.
1. Paul Cook
Another one of the five Sunderland have reportedly requested permission to speak to, this is one that the League One side could pull off, with the current Wigan manager apparently keen to speak to the Black Cats.
Having won promotion from League One as champions during his first season with Wigan in 2017/18, before keeping them in the Championship last year, it does appear as though Cook has the ability to both get Sunderland out of the third tier, and then stabilise them in the Championship.
Add to that the prolific goals return he was able to get out of mis-firing Sunderland striker Will Grigg during his time at The DW Stadium, and it certainly seems as though this could be a productive appointment for Sunderland, in more ways than one.