WIDESPREAD reports are suggesting that Gus Poyet will be relieved of his duties as Sunderland head coach following Saturday’s 4-0 defeat to Aston Villa.
The talk is that a short-term replacement will be drafted in until the summer as the Black Cats look to avoid relegation from the Premier League.
But who could Sunderland turn to on that basis? Here are five contenders.
Advocaat’s name was put in the frame as soon as serious question marks started to emerge over Poyet’s immediate future last night.
The Dutchman, who has managed the likes of PSV, Rangers, the Netherlands and Russia during a nomadic career, is currently out of work.
The 67-year-old has failed to settle in a job over the last decade, and has held 11 different positions in the last 11 years.
He has never managed in the Premier League, so could he see a short-term firefighting role at Sunderland as his chance to make a mark on England’s top flight?
The most obvious internal candidate to replace Poyet in the short-term would be Ball, who has held the caretaker role at Sunderland twice.
However, during Poyet’s time at the club, Ball has left his job as head coach of Sunderland’s Under-21 side, and is instead in an ambassadorial role.
Whether he would be willing to return to coaching as the club’s caretaker manager again remains to be seen, but Ball’s love for Sunderland runs deep.
A third spell in temporary charge at the Stadium of Light for the Sunderland stalwart is not completely out of the question.
Reid was mooted as a potential short-term candidate for Sunderland when Paolo Di Canio was sacked in September 2013.
The Liverpudlian, who managed the club between 1995 and 2002, would surely jump at the chance to help the Black Cats out.
Reid, who led Sunderland to two seventh-placed finishes in the top flight, is surely the club’s most successful manager of recent times.
He has held managerial roles at three English clubs since leaving Sunderland, without success, but could he provide the short-term boost Sunderland need to safeguard their Premier League status?
Former Sunderland manager Keane, who is currently assistant manager of the Republic of Ireland, was spotted at Sunderland’s game with Aston Villa on Saturday.
That set tongues wagging in some circles, but it is thought extremely unlikely the former Manchester United captain will make a dramatic return to Wearside.
Keane did not leave Sunderland on the best of terms with owner Ellis Short, and hardly seems the type to take over a club on a short-term basis.
However, stranger things have surely happened, and Keane’s methods may just be ideal for a short-term fix.
Hoddle is regularly near the top of the bookmakers’ lists whenever a Premier League job becomes available.
However, he has not managed since leaving Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2006, after earlier abrupt departures from Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton, England, Chelsea and Swindon Town.
His reputation seems to have been increased as a result of his work as a TV pundit, but would he be willing to return to management, on a short-term basis?
Hoddle is out of work after leaving Queens Park Rangers – where he was first-team coach – along with manager Harry Redknapp in February.