Garry Monk has revealed it was always his intention to take over at Middlesbrough this summer.
The Boro boss had been strongly linked with the manager's job at the Stadium of Light following David Moyes' resignation following relegation from the Premier League.
But Monk has confirmed it was always his intention to head to Teesside after speaking with Boro chairman Steve Gibson, adding he wasn't close to joining Sunderland.
Simon Grayson was appointed Sunderland boss but he was sacked this week after just one win in 15 Championship games.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow's Tees-Wear derby at the Riverside (KO 12.15pm), Monk told the Northern Echo: "There is always speculation about players, managers, in football and it is what it is.
"I don’t deal in speculation. Obviously leaving Leeds, I was out of work and I went away.
"When I came back I heard Middlesbrough were interested, I went to talk with Middlesbrough and there was no looking back from there on in.
"Speculation is something you can’t do anything about.
No [it wasn’t as if it was close with Sunderland], Middlesbrough was the only job I was interested in having spoken to the owner and then it was a clear decision for myself."
The Boro boss has spoken out against the sacking of Grayson this week, describing it as a 'mind-boggling' decision.
Monk says Sunderland was always going to be a tough job for whoever took charge this campaign.
He added: "In terms of the principle of it, it was always going to be a difficult job [Sunderland]. A team that gets relegated is always going to have issues. Those issues will vary from club to club when they get relegated.
"I don’t know the full ins and outs there, so I can’t tell you what internally has gone on. What it was like. In terms of what was in front of him it was always going to be difficult and it was always going to take time.
"Every club has the right to make their own decisions and do what they want, so you have to respect that. It’s not my concern, my only concern is making sure this club is successful.
"It’s a shame because Simon is an excellent manager, he has a proven record. I have spoken to him and he will come back."