DICK ADVOCAAT has today been confirmed as Sunderland’s new short-term coach, with Real Madrid assistant Paul Clement the leading contender for the post in the long-term.
Ex-Rangers boss Advocaat has been handed the responsibility of keeping Sunderland in the Premier League over the final nine games of the season after the Black Cats yesterday dismissed head coach Gus Poyet.
Sunderland sporting director Lee Congerton knows Advocaat through his ex-Hamburg colleague Frank Arnesen, who worked under the vastly-experienced former Holland manager at PSV Eindhoven.
Advocaat flew into the North East last night and the formalities were struck for a move to the Stadium of Light, where the 67-year-old will be assisted by first-team coach Zeljko Petrovic, goalkeeping coach, Adrian Tucker, plus former Sunderland skipper and current academy coach Paul Bracewell.
“Sunderland is a big club and I am very much looking forward to the challenge ahead,” said Advocaat.
“We must now concentrate on Saturday (at West Ham) as a priority and I can’t wait to get started.”
Sunderland chairman Ellis Short added: “Dick has an incredible CV and vast experience of managing at the very highest level.
“We have one aim only now - to climb the table and everyone is fully focused on the task ahead of us.”
Advocaat is believed to have always been in pole position to succeed Poyet after Sunderland made the decision to axe the Uruguayan, with no approach thought to have been made to former caretaker and club ambassador Kevin Ball.
However, Advocaat - who left his position as Serbian national team manager in November - is only a temporary measure, with Sunderland reassessing their options for a long-term head coach at the end of the season.
Sunderland is a big club and I am very much looking forward to the challenge ahead.Dick Advocaat
The Echo understands that Clement, who worked alongside Congerton at Chelsea, is among Sunderland’s summer targets, albeit that is likely to depend on whether the club are still in the Premier League.
There has speculation for several weeks linking Clement with Sunderland and it is thought to be genuine.
It has been a strong possibility that Poyet was likely to part company with Sunderland at the end of the season and Clement is on the radar as a potential replacement.
Clement, who has been linked with the QPR and Newcastle jobs this season, has indicated that he was staying as number two to Carlo Ancelotti at the Bernabeu until the summer.
But he has been open about his desire to manage in the Premier League.
He said earlier this year: “I’m 43 now and it needs to be in my forties. It could be the next job or the one after, but I see it in the near future.”
Former Sunderland defender Sam Allardyce has also been linked with a return to Wearside and there is thought to be no prospect of him remaining at West Ham when his contract expires at the end of the season.
Allardyce came desperately close to taking the Sunderland job in the summer of 2006, only to have a change of heart before Roy Keane was eventually appointed.
Derby boss Steve McClaren was also linked yesterday, with the ex-Middlesbrough manager thought to still be in the running for the Newcastle job at the end of the season.