Aitor Karanka has emerged as an early frontrunner to succeed David Moyes, who called an end to his miserable spell at Sunderland on Monday afternoon.
Moyes has endured a miserable time since leaving Everton to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, a position he held for less than a season. He then tried his hand in Spain with Real Sociedad, and although he celebrated a famous victory over Barcelona during his time in La Liga, he was sacked a day before his one-year anniversary at the club following a string of poor results.
Despite these setbacks it was still largely considered as a good move by Sunderland to appoint Moyes as Sam Allardyce’s successor last summer, but the Scot struggled from day one as the Black Cats soon seemed destined for relegation. This fate was sealed with four games to spare at the end of April, when a 1-0 defeat at home to Bournemouth rooted them in the bottom three.
Although they did manage to record a surprise win at Hull City earlier this month, they then lost to Swansea City and Arsenal before ending the campaign with a 5-1 drubbing at champions Chelsea. By then it was already confirmed that the Wearsiders would finish bottom of the table, and 24 hours later Moyes handed in his resignation after winning just six league games all season.
“I pursued the services of David Moyes for a considerable period prior to his appointment, which makes the announcement of his departure difficult for everyone concerned,” said chairman Ellis Short. “Having worked tirelessly throughout the campaign to avoid relegation from the Premier League, David has chosen to leave the club without compensation, which is testament to his character.”
Moyes has experienced a difficult time both on and off the pitch. At the start of the season he angered fans by revealing that Sunderland were likely to be involved in a relegation fight, which hardly inspired confidence amongst his players. And in April he had to explain comments he made to BBC reporter Vicki Sparks, after telling her she “still might get a slap even though you’re a woman.”
Ellis and the board will now look to find a replacement well in advance of the start of the Championship season on 4 August. The early frontrunner is Karanka, who led Middlesbrough to the Premier League last season before leaving by mutual consent in March. The Spaniard remains a huge favourite at the Riverside Stadium, but he could soon be working for one of their North East rivals.
The 43-year-old is highly regarded as one of the best young coaches around, and he is thought to be eager to continue his career in England. The prospect of returning to the game at Sunderland who, despite their recent struggles, remain one of the biggest clubs in the country, is sure to be an attractive proposition for the former Real Madrid assistant boss.