Sunderland’s manager search was turned upside down on Thursday night when Derek McInnes rejected the opportunity to take over at the Stadium of Light and instead opted to remain at Aberdeen. Chief Sports Writer Scott Wilson examines where the Black Cats might turn next as they look to appoint David Moyes’ successor


The Northern Echo:

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The Preston boss featured on Sunderland’s initial shortlist prior to their approach to McInnes, and is likely to figure prominently in Martin Bain’s thoughts as he assesses what his next move should be.

Having started his managerial career at Blackpool, Grayson bolstered his reputation as he led Leeds United to promotion from League One. He spent a season at Huddersfield after leaving Elland Road, and impressed last season as he led Preston to 11th in the Championship table despite being handicapped by one of the smallest budgets in the division.

He is respected as one of the keenest operators in the Football League, particularly when money is tight, and is believed to be interested in a move to the Stadium of Light.

However, Sunderland will have to negotiate a compensation payment with Preston if they are to move for his services, and as this week’s talks with Aberdeen proved, that isn’t always a smooth process.

Odds: 6-4


The Northern Echo:

The former Leicester boss has been approached by a number of clubs this summer, and was interviewed by Middlesbrough before the Teessiders opted to appoint Garry Monk instead.

Pearson’s track record makes him one of the most appealing candidates who is currently out of work, with his work at Leicester laying the foundations for the club’s remarkable title triumph under Claudio Ranieri.

He is renowned as a hard task-master, and his no-nonsense approach could be just what Sunderland need as they look to restore some order after last season’s shambolic relegation.

Might Pearson’s combustible personality create as many problems as it solves though? And given the financial restrictions that resulted in McInnes turning down the Black Cats, would Pearson be interested in a move to Sunderland if money was tight?

Odds: 5-1


The Northern Echo:

Is it remotely conceivable that Sunderland could make another attempt to sign McInnes? Given Thursday night’s events it must be a hugely unlikely prospect, but the Scotsman still figures prominently on most bookmakers’ lists.

Bain clearly wanted McInnes, and with compensation having been agreed with Aberdeen, it would not be too difficult for Sunderland to attempt to resurrect their interest.

It would be hugely embarrassing though, especially as McInnes would almost certainly deliver the same answer unless Sunderland were able to radically increase the level of funds that were being made available this summer. As things stand, there is no sign of that happening.

And even if McInnes was to change his mind, how would his initial refusal play out in the eyes of the fans? Having had their fingers burned once, Sunderland are unlikely to put themselves in the same position again.

Odds: 6-1


The Northern Echo:

The former Sunderland striker has featured prominently in the market for the Sunderland job ever since Moyes departed, although Bain appears to be targeting a more experienced candidate for the role.

Emotionally, the appointment of Phillips would make a lot of sense. After this week’s snub from McInnes, Sunderland supporters desperately need a lift, and Bain needs to make an appointment that will get the fans back on side and create a sense of optimism ahead of the new Championship season.

Seeing Phillips in the Stadium of Light dug-out would create a stir, and might enable Bain to deflect some of the criticism that is currently being hurled in his direction.

Turning to a completely untried manager would be a huge risk though, and even though Phillips has been coaching at Leicester and Derby, is the task of rebuilding Sunderland too challenging for a novice?  

Odds: 13-2


The Northern Echo:

An out-of-work manager following his recent departure from Wolves, Lambert boasts a large amount of experience in the Premier League and Championship after spells at Norwich, Aston Villa and Blackburn.

He led Wolves to 15th in the second tier last season, but left Molineux after a power struggle with Wolves’ new owners and their influential agent, Jorge Mendes.

As a free agent, Sunderland would not be due any compensation payments if they were to appoint him, but his last two managerial spells have seen him operating in the bottom half of the Championship and he never looked like guiding either Wolves or Blackburn to promotion.

He knows the league inside-out, so would come with a well-researched list of targets, but his appointment would hardly inspire a fan base that is in need of a lift.

Odds: 12-1


The Northern Echo:

Having guided Sheffield United to the League One title last season, Wilder’s managerial stock is currently fairly high. With Bain reassessing his options in the wake of McInnes’ snub, the 49-year-old was linked with the Sunderland job yesterday.

A journeyman player who made more than 400 appearances for a host of Football League clubs, Wilder began his managerial career with non-league Alfreton.

He made his name at Oxford, where he won promotion from the Conference to League Two, Northampton, where he achieved promotion to League One despite a difficult financial position, and Sheffield United, where he guided his boyhood club back into the Championship.

He has never managed in the second tier, but his lengthy track record of success in the lower-leagues could make him an appealing option. His appointment would still be a risk given his lack of Championship experience though, and Bain might feel he needs a bigger name to create a buzz ahead of the new season.

Odds: 16-1