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Next Sunderland Manager Odds: Duncan Ferguson, Grant McCann, Neil Warnock, John Terry early contenders

Duncan Ferguson is one of the early names in the betting
Duncan Ferguson is one of the early names in the betting

Sunderland have sacked head coach Lee Johnson, despite being two points off top spot in League One.

The decision came after a 6-0 defeat at Bolton which brought an end to Johnson’s 14-month tenure, with assistant head coach Jamie McAllister also departing.

It's a big call from the promotion-chasing club that came on the penultimate day of the transfer window, meaning a new manager won't have time to bring in his own players.

A knee-jerk decision perhaps? It appears that way. The hierarchy will, however, point to the unacceptable and alarming nature of the six goal defeat to a team in the bottom-half of League One. Five wins from 15 away matches also represents an underwhelming return, with only basement boys Doncaster conceding more on the road. 

In a statement on Sunday night, Kyril Louis-Dreyfus said: 

“I would like to thank Lee for his commitment and endeavour over the past 14 months. We regret that we have had to take this decision, but felt immediate change was needed. We firmly believe that this is in the best interests of Sunderland AFC as we strive to earn promotion this season. Lee and Jamie will always be welcome at the Stadium of Light and they depart with our best wishes.”

Johnson is the third Sunderland manager to lose his job since the club were relegated to League One in 2018 - following Jack Ross and Phil Parkinson - while he’s the eleventh manager to exit the Stadium of Light in the last 10 years.

Who will the club turn to next? Below we take a look at the early names in the frame for the League One post.

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"The process to appoint a new Head Coach will commence immediately and a further update regarding the club’s interim coaching set-up will be communicated shortly," the club added in the statement.

This is a job that will attract huge interest given Sunderland’s size, stature and league position. It’s extremely rare that a job pops up when a team is 3rd in the table and just two points off the summit (albeit having played more games than the teams above them).

The task for whoever comes in is simple: lead Sunderland to promotion up to the Championship.

In as the early frontrunner is Duncan Ferguson, who is one man you’d want to put in that dressing room following the horrendous 6-0 thrashing. He’d be sure to shake things up and get the Stadium of Light rocking.

Technically still Everton’s caretaker manager at the time of writing, Ferguson has missed out on the Everton job following reports that Frank Lampard has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal at Goodison Park. Where that leaves the Scot is unknown, although you'd expect him to be a part of Lampard's coaching staff.

His no-nonsense nature, passion, and energy could be what Sunderland need right now, although critics will point to his lack of managerial experience of which there is none apart from five games across two caretaker spells at Everton.

In terms of out-of-work managers with League One promotions on their CV, there’s Grant McCann (6/1), Paul Cook (33/1) and Neil Harris (33/1).

McCann, who led Hull to the League One title last season, lost his job at Hull last week following the club’s takeover. A rather harsh decision to many given that he’d just beaten Blackburn and Bournemouth to move the club 10 points clear of the Championship relegation zone. Could a move up the north east coast now be on the cards?

Cook has three EFL titles on his resume, including a League One gong with Wigan. He was, however, unable to revive Ipswich this season after a huge summer overhaul, although he’d argue that he deserved more time.

Then there’s Harris, a surprise favourite for the Gillingham job last week, who previously led Millwall to two League One play-off finishes including a promotion.

Neil Warnock has attracted some early interest at 16/1. No one has achieved more Football League promotions than the veteran boss - eight - who left Middlesbrough back in November, and would no doubt jump at the chance to enhance his tally to nine promotions, perhaps on a short-term deal until the end of the season?

Other experienced managers available for hire include Neil Lennon (16/1), former Championship play-off victor Alex Neil (20/1), and ex-Newcastle boss Chris Hughton (20/1), with Mark Hughes and Tony Pulis both priced at 33/1.

There are plenty of former Sunderland managers who feature in the betting market, with the out-of-work Sam Allardyce, Mick McCarthy, Roy Keane, Steve Bruce, Gus Poyet, and Simon Grayson all out at 33/1. Ex-Black Cats players John O’Shea and Kevin Phillips can be backed at 33/1 and 40/1 respectively.

Could Sunderland look elsewhere in the EFL for a new manager? There's currently a new generation of bosses impressing right now.

Rob Edwards (33/1) is doing a fantastic job at League Two leaders Forest Green Rovers, as is Liam Manning at MK Dons (4th in League One), and also Mark Bonner at Cambridge who are in the top-half of the third-tier following their promotion last season; Bonner also memorably conjured up a stunning FA Cup triumph at Newcastle earlier this month.

The likes of John Terry (3/1), Jody Morris (20/1), Michael Carrick (33/1), and Nicky Butt (33/1) are looking or their first outright opportunity in management, while ex-Newport boss Michael Flynn could well attract attention at 33/1.

Former Aston Villa manager Remi Garde - most recently at Montreal Impact - is a surprise name in the betting at 16/1, the same price as Wycombe's Gareth Ainsworth who is currently the second longest-serving manager in the top-four leagues.

Full odds below...

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