Sunderland have been shocked by the Aberdeen boss's decision not to join them and now need to make an appointment pronto, says Max Liu, as he weighs up the leading candidates for the job....
"Sunderland are 4/1 to achieve an immediate return to the Premier League and their fans will settle for nothing less."
Sunderland have had seven managers in six years but their search for an eighth goes on after Derek McInnes turned down the role. The Aberdeen boss had been given permission to speak to Sunderland and was tipped to take over at the Stadium of Light, but has decided to stay with The Dons.
This has caused surprise and disappointment at Sunderland, as many within the club believed McInnes was the man to return them to the top flight. Sunderland are set for a long season in the Championship and the players will be back in training at the end of June before the season kicks off on August 4. So they need to act quickly to make an appointment.
Simon Grayson is the new 6/4 favourite to get the job. The former-Leeds manager has impressed since taking over at Preston North End in 2013. He brought them back into the Championship from League One and has secured back-to-back 11th-placed finishes in the past couple of seasons.
If Grayson is to be the new man at the Stadium of Light then he will be expected to achieve a much higher finish, as Sunderland are 4/1 to achieve an immediate return to the Premier League and their fans will settle for nothing less.
Kevin Phillips is another leading candidate for the job at 9/1. The club legend, who scored played for Sunderland for six years and famously scored 30 goals for them in one Premier League season, would be the romantics' choice. He lacks managerial experience, though, and represents the kind of gamble that the board might not be willing to take.
If they want experience, then Sunderland could opt for the likes of Nigel Pearson 6/1, who brought Leicester into the Premier League. He endured an ignominious reign at Derby but still has credit in the bank for his success with Leicester, gaining promotion then keeping them up and, arguably, laying the foundations for the club's subsequent Premier League triumph.