BOOKIES are already taking bets on who will be the next Sunderland manager, with Martin O’Neill the firm favourite according to odds from betting site OLBG Sports.
* Martin O’Neill, 8/1. Former Celtic boss O’Neill is strongly linked with the Sunderland post whenever it becomes vacant but has yet to actually make the move to Wearside. After nearly 18 months out of the game, however, the Northern Irishman may be ready to re-enter the fray and is odds-on with some bookmakers to take the role.
* Mark Hughes, 6/1. Former Blackburn, Manchester City and Fulham boss Hughes seems among the more popular candidates with the Stadium of Light faithful. However, he may eventually prove to be in the frame to replace the late Gary Speed as Wales boss for a second term.
* Rafael Benitez, 10/1. Former Champions League winner Benitez is thought to be eager to return to management and has repeatedly spoken of his intention to continue his career in England. Whether a relegation battle in the North East is what he has in mind is another question, however.
* Eric Black, 19/1. Scotsman Black has been Bruce’s assistant at Birmingham and Sunderland but has managerial experience in his own right from his time in charge at Coventry. However, he would represent a low-profile choice and would be unlikely to appease the majority of supporters.
* Bob Bradley, 21/1. Former United States national team boss Bradley has been linked with the position in recent days largely due to his nationality, with Sunderland’s owner and chairman Ellis Short a fellow American.
* Lee Clark, 29/1. The most controversial candidate would undoubtedly be passionate Geordie Clark. Currently cultivating a stellar managerial reputation in charge of League One Huddersfield, Clark crossed the Tyne-Wear divide as a player only to leave on bitter terms.