FORMER Schalke boss Ralf Rangnick has seen his odds tumble in the race to be the next Sunderland boss.
Sunderland remain without a permanent head coach almost a fortnight after Paolo Di Canio was relieved of his duties at the Stadium of Light.
Rangnick is the latest contender to be linked with the role and it is understood that the German is someone who has come under consideration by the Black Cats hierarchy.
The 55-year-old has been in a director of football role for both Red Bull Salzburg and RB Leipzig since leaving Schalke in 2011 due to poor health.
But Rangnick, who led Schalke to the Champions League semi-finals, has been interested in returning to front-line management after more than a decade in the dug-out in the Bundesliga.
Rangnick, who is fluent in English after a year spent studying at the University of Brighton, was close to being appointed West Brom boss in the summer of 2012 before the Baggies ultimately turned to Steve Clarke.
And he has now emerged as a surprise candidate to address Sunderland’s increasingly pressing need for a permanent man at the helm.
Ex-Brighton boss Gus Poyet remains the front runner for the position and there have been several discussions between Sunderland and the Uruguayan.
But despite Poyet being a free agent and making no secret of his desire to take charge of the Black Cats, Sunderland have taken their time in making a decision.
Former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen is also thought to have held talks with Sunderland, although the Dutchman’s camp are keeping tight-lipped over his hopes or keenness for the position.
Caretaker boss Kevin Ball remains the man currently in the dug-out though and the ex-Black Cats skipper is eager to manage the club he has served for two decades.
Ball would be a popular choice among the club’s staff and has received several endorsements from the players this week.
And there is an understanding that if Ball was given the job on a permanent basis, he would need an experienced and contemporary assistant alongside him in the dug-out.