Sunderland will open talks with Sam Allardyce on Friday as they attempt to fill their vacancy for a new head coach.
According to the Press Association, formal contact between the Black Cats and the former West Ham boss’s camp has now been made, and that discussions will get under way within hours and continue over the weekend.
The Premier League strugglers will hope to have an answer from the 60-year-old one way or the other by Monday at the latest and, in an ideal world, would have the new man in place before the trip to West Brom on October 17.
Allardyce has been on holiday in Spain as Sunderland’s interest in him has become an open secret, but chairman Ellis Short will now look to persuade him to resume his career on Wearside following his exit from Upton Park after four years at the end of last season.
The former Black Cats defender was quickly identified as the leading candidate for the post following Dick Advocaat’s departure last Sunday and he has been installed as the overwhelming bookmakers’ favourite in recent days.
His proven track record for establishing clubs in the top flight makes him attractive to Short, who has seen Sunderland flirt with relegation for too much of his reign, only rescuing themselves with remarkable late runs at the end of each of the last three campaigns.
They are yet to win a league game in eight attempts to date this season, and Advocaat voiced the opinion after his exit that the current squad is simply not good enough.
In the circumstances, Short’s ability to convince Allardyce that the 68-year-old Dutchman’s view was harsh – or perhaps more importantly, his readiness to provide cash to strengthen further in January – may be the crux of their discussions.