Where next for Sunderland? Six managers who could now come into the frame

Phillips could come into the frame following recent developments
Phillips could come into the frame following recent developments
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Sunderland are reeling from the news that Derek McInnes has opted to stay with Aberdeen.

The 45-year-old had reservations about the size of the transfer budget he would have to play with and ongoing uncertainty regarding the ownership of the club.

In the aftermath of last night's dramatic developments, Chief Executive Martin Bain insisted that he had been speaking to a number of potential candidates and thus played down the ramifications of the decision made by McInnes.

So who comes into the frame?

Simon Grayson

The strong favourite is Preston North End boss Simon Grayson.

Grayson's track record in the Football League, where has recruited well and often on limited budgets, fits the profile Sunderland are looking for perfectly.

The biggest question now, if Sunderland do turn their attentions to him, is whether they can get him.

Sunderland may boast a bigger budget and better facilities than Preston but Grayson has stability and a squad responding to his methods. He may also be less likely to consider an approach now he will be seen publicly as the second choice.

Kevin Phillips

The Sunderland legend is another who will now be mentioned in connection with the post.

Without any managerial experience the Black Cats were initially lukewarm on the idea but McInnes may have changed the picture by turning the job down at the last minute.

Phillips would at least be a figure the fanbase could unite behind and would come with an understanding of the club and what is required.

Given the morale around Wearisde at the moment that is not something to be taken for granted.

Paul Lambert

Another name who was initially in Sunderland's thoughts, with Championship experience and no compensation to be paid to another club.

Would not be an inspiring appointment for the supporters but recently confirmed his intent to stay in England.

He told BBC Five Live: "I've been in England since 2005 and I've had some great moments and some hard moments which every manager goes through. I've had some great times, worked with some great lads so I'm happy,

"Ok I'm not doing anything at the minute, but there are one or two things that people have asked me to do and I'll look at that. I don't see myself coming back up [to Scotland]."

Nigel Pearson

Missed out on the Middlesbrough job with Steve Gibson impressed with Monk's vision for the club.

Has plenty of Championship experience but is another who would likely not respond well to being perceived as a second choice appointment.

Stock has also taken a hit after a turbulent and ultimately unsuccessful spell at Derby County last time out.

Nigel Clough

Another who will have been on Sunderland's radar after a sterling effort to keep Burton Albion in the Championship last season.

Another who the Black Cats may struggle to tempt away.

After all, it is a matter of months since Clough turned down the chance to manage Nottingham Forest, another club with an enormous sentimental pull, due to uncertainty over the ownership of the club.

Paul Heckingbottom

A coach that Sunderland would now surely be wise to consider.

May not have a wealth of experience but on a tiny budget he turned Barnsley into the best counter-attacking side in the Championship and at one stage looked like he could launch a play-of push.

January sales of key players put an end to that and with more leaving Oakwell, Heckingbottom is one who could potentially be tempted away. Understands the footballing landscape of the North East well, too.