Who could struggling Sunderland turn to after sacking Simon Grayson?
Grayson was appointed as David Moyes’ replacement following the Black Cats’ relegation from the Premier League last season, but won just one of his 18 games in charge. His reign ended just minutes after Tuesday night’s 3-3 draw with bottom-of-the-table Bolton Wanderers at the Stadium of Light.
Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship game between Sunderland and Bolton
Sunderland are now considered third favourites for relegation, at just 11/8 with Sky Bet, but who do the bookmakers rate as Grayson’s most likely replacement? Here are the leading contenders for the vacancy…
Michael Gray says he can envisage back-to-back relegations for Sunderland, following Simon Grayson's sacking as manager Aitor Karanka – 2/1 with Sky Bet
The Spaniard has been backed as favourite for the position for the second successive time, having previously been linked with the role following David Moyes’ departure. Karanka has a track record of taking a side out of the Sky Bet Championship and into the Premier League, with north-east rivals Middlesbrough. His position at the Riverside was deemed untenable with the club in the Premier League relegation zone and on the back of a bizarre walkout following a bust-up with his players. The former Real Madrid coach remains out of work, despite being linked with a host of vacancies and leads a wide-open market.
Peter Reid – 11/4 with Sky Bet
Sunderland enjoyed their best Premier League spell under Reid, who twice guided them to seventh-place finishes, and remains a favourite on Wearside despite not having taken charge of an English club since his time at Plymouth Argyle drew to a close in September 2011. He has vast experience and seemingly has the backing of fans, with his price crashing from 12/1 to 11/4 since Grayson’s departure.
Kevin Phillips – 5/1 with Sky Bet
A veteran of the Reid side which briefly threatened to break into the Premier League top six, Phillips is regarded as a hero on Wearside for the goals he scored in a red-and-white shirt. He has been quietly making his way as a coach since his retirement and has been linked with the vacancy at the Stadium of Light more than once, with bookmakers considering him a realistic contender to make this his first position as third favourite.
Nigel Pearson – 6/1 with Sky Bet
Another former Middlesbrough coach on the list, Pearson would represent a controversial appointment on various levels. The 54-year-old is also a former Newcastle United caretaker manager and has left his previous two roles at Leicester City and Derby County amid strained relations with club owners. However, he has the track record of securing promotion and battling relegation during his time with the Foxes, where he constructed much of the side which went on to defy all odds and become Premier League champions.
Kevin Ball – 7/1 with Sky Bet
The former Black Cats enforcer would be looked on far more fondly by supporters and has stepped in as caretaker manager on two previous occasions. His passion for and knowledge of the club is a matter of record, but it would be a big step to appoint him to the hotseat with little frontline experience.
John O’Shea – 8/1 with Sky Bet
A Champions League winner with Manchester United, defender O’Shea also has 115 international caps for the Republic of Ireland to his name, but is fast approaching the end of his playing career. The 36-year-old has aspirations to manage in the future and although he would command respect in the dressing room, he would be a left-field candidate.
Roy Keane – 12/1 with Sky Bet
Keane enjoyed a largely positive spell in charge at the Stadium of Light during the Drumaville era and has made no secret of his desire to return to club management one day. He has verbally agreed a contract extension in his current role as Republic of Ireland assistant manager, with double-figure odds suggesting he will honour that commitment.
Sam Allardyce – 12/1 with Sky Bet
Sunderland thought they had got it right when they appointed Allardyce in October 2015 and saw him guide the club away from relegation. He left for a short and ill-fated spell as England manager at the end of that season, but did so having been made aware of the depth of the club’s financial woes, and that situation has not improved since.