SIMON GRAYSON’S 125-day reign as Sunderland manager came to an end last night, just quarter of an hour after failing to prevent the club from equalling an English record of going 19 home matches without winning.

The North Yorkshireman was told immediately after the final whistle that his short time in charge at the Stadium of Light was over, having had to endure fans chanting ‘we want Grayson out’ during the 3-3 draw with the Championship’s bottom club, Bolton.

Sunderland’s record post-war goalscorer Kevin Phillips has immediately been installed as the favourite for the job, while intriguingly former Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka is also being regarded as one of the front-runners – just days before Sunday’s Tees-Wear derby at the Riverside.

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The Black Cats’ legendary former skipper Kevin Ball and first team coach Billy McKinlay are two of the contenders to slot in to take on the role on a caretaker basis initially, while there has also been suggestions that ex-boss Peter Reid would be interested in a return too.

The reality is that chief executive Martin Bain is looking to appoint Sunderland’s ninth manager in the last six years, while the club’s owner Ellis Short knows the appointment is crucial for them to avoid the drop into League One and help his attempts to sell up.

Sunderland have collected just ten points from the opening 15 games in the Championship, winning just once, to leave them two points adrift of safety.

Had Paddy McNair not struck a 79th minute equaliser against Bolton then Grayson’s side would be propping up the division this morning.

No sooner had the final whistle blown, Grayson had been told and the media informed that he would not be carrying out his media duties in the press room at the Stadium of Light.

A spokesman emerged to read this statement: “Sunderland AFC has this evening parted company with manager Simon Grayson.

“The club would like to place on record its thanks to Simon and his staff for their efforts during their time at the football club.”

A comment attributed to Bain read: “Simon and his team have worked tirelessly to achieve the best for the football club during their time here.

“While we hoped that Simon’s experience in the Football League would help us to a successful season, results have not been good enough for a club of this stature.

“In order for us to improve upon our current position we believe a fundamental change is necessary.”

It was also confirmed that Bain’s assistant manager Glynn Snodin has also left the club with immediate effect.

Former Sunderland defender Michael Gray was quick to comment afterwards and he thinks whoever comes in will have a tough challenge on his hand to steer Sunderland away from the bottom three.

Gray said: "I think the writing was on the wall, it's been on the wall since the first day of the season when Simon was only given £1.5m to spend in the transfer window.

“If you bring in average players you get exactly what is coming to you. It's real bad times at the minute and I can see back to back relegations right now.”

Grayson, who left Preston in the summer to take on the challenge of reviving Sunderland’s fortunes, had watched his players gift Bolton three goals and that prevented them from finally ending the wait for a win.

Bolton boss Phil Parkinson, whose side remain bottom of the Championship after coming up from League One last season, didn’t have chance to talk the situation over with Grayson.

Parkinson said: “I feel for Simon. He is a tremendous manager, with a great record. Any manager who came here would find it a tough challenge.

“I had to turn Bolton round from a relegated team, changing that mentality after relegation is difficult but he be back because there will be a lot of people interested in him.

“I shook hands as you normally do. You normally go for a drink in the office. I will probably just get on the coach and give him a call later in the week.

“The first ten minutes they started well, we got the deserved lead, their goal gave them a lift that did knock us near half-time.

“Sunderland looked brighter, we should still have got all three points after getting back into the lead. We should have got that. The good thing is our attacking players looked really bright and that was a bonus for us.”