Sunderland insist Sam Allardyce showed great enthusiasm in succeeding Dick Advocaat as manager of the struggling Premier League club.
Advocaat performed something of a minor miracle in keeping the Black Cats in the Premier League last season, but another battle against the drop looks to be on the cards following their dismal start to the new campaign. The Stadium of Light outfit are still winless after eight rounds of fixtures, and are second bottom ahead of rivals Newcastle United by virtue of goal difference only.
They looked to be heading for victory in their last match until they let a 2-0 lead slip and had to settle for a point at home to West Ham United, and this turned out to be Advocaat’s last game in charge as he quit shortly afterwards. Since then a number of names have been linked with the post, yet there was some doubt over Allardyce’s interest in succeeding the Dutchman.
The 60-year-old has been out of work since leaving West Ham at the end of last season, and has been in Spain where he was about to embark on a tour to promote his autobiography. Although it was expected that he would return to the game sooner rather than later, it had been suggested that he had no interest in joining Sunderland due to their more than likely fight with relegation.
However, that doesn’t appear to have any substance after it was confirmed on Friday that he had signed a two-year contract at Wearside. Chairman Ellis Short told the official club website: “Nothing could be further from the truth. From the very beginning, he understood the importance of this job and showed great enthusiasm for the role and a desire to be part of moving this club forward.”
Allardyce, who has also managed Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle and Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League, will take charge with immediate effect and his first match will be the trip to West Bromwich Albion next weekend. This will be followed by his first game at the Stadium of Light on 25 October, when the visitors are none other than their fierce rivals from St James’ Park.
“I hope to bring the stability and success that everyone wants,” said Allardyce, who made 26 appearances for Sunderland as a player in 1980/81. “Of course it’s a challenging job, but it’s something I have experience of in the past. I’m looking forward to working with the players and of course I will be relying on the help of the Sunderland supporters. I can’t wait to get started.”