Sam Allardyce was back at his desk today striving for a transfer breakthrough, despite England’s approach putting his Sunderland future in severe jeopardy.
Sunderland made their displeasure clear over the FA’s interview with Allardyce becoming public knowledge in a statement released earlier today, despite begrudgingly granting the 61-year-old permission to hold talks over the England vacancy at his own request.
However, Sunderland also stressed that Allardyce remains “key” to the club’s plans, with the Black Cats boss back at the Academy of Light and continuing his efforts to strengthen the squad in the transfer market.
Allardyce is unlikely to head back to Austria to join Sunderland’s squad at their pre-season training base in the Alps, with the players due to return to Wearside at the weekend.
But Sunderland are confident that they can still make headway in the transfer market, despite the uncertainty over whether Allardyce will be in the dug-out when the Premier League gets underway in a month.
There is no question though that the timing of the FA’s approach for Allardyce has irked Sunderland, particularly when the club were hoping for a period of stability under the 61-year-old after last season’s escape from relegation.
Sunderland have called for a “swift resolution” over the situation, with a hope that the matter will be finalised one way or the other by the end of next week – by which time the Black Cats will have already begun their programme of pre-season friendlies.
Despite Allardyce being the leading candidate for the England job and being the first confirmed candidate to hold talks with the FA, there is no guarantee he will succeed Roy Hodgson.
Allardyce appears to have the support of FA vice-chairman David Gill, the former Manchester United chairman and confidante of Sir Alex Ferguson, who has publicly backed the credentials of the Sunderland manager.
But there are also reservations within the FA over whether Allardyce fits the organisation’s strategy, with Steve Bruce, Eddie Howe and Jurgen Klinsmann also in contention.
After Allardyce returned from Sunderland’s training camp earlier this week for an interview, the Black Cats will have to start planning contingency options for what would be a seventh manager in less than five years.
Out-of-work David Moyes – who was at the Stadium of Light to watch Sunderland’s draw against Crystal Palace last March – is an immediate favourite after he has been approached by the Black Cats on at least two previous occasions.
And Burnley boss Sean Dyche would also come into Sunderland’s thinking after he was an option for the club last summer, prior to Dick Advocaat’s U-turn over returning to Wearside.