PASCAL JANSEN became the latest candidate to drop out of the running to be Sunderland’s new head coach at the weekend.

Sunderland officials held talks with the former AZ Alkmaar boss, but have decided to look elsewhere as they search for a permanent successor to Michael Beale, who was dismissed almost four months ago.

Who is still in the frame to be appointed at the Stadium of Light? And what are the chances of them taking charge of the Black Cats?


The Northern Echo:

The former Hull boss is the new bookmakers’ favourite to get the Sunderland job, and while the 39-year-old was not being considered as a candidate when Beale was initially sacked, his stock has risen with every dead end that Kristjaan Speakman and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus have encountered in the last few weeks.

Having had a successful playing career with the likes of Fulham, Hull and Brighton, Rosenior’s first managerial position came when he stepped up to take on the role of interim manager at Derby following the departure of Wayne Rooney in the summer of 2022.

His first permanent role was at Hull, and he spent a year-and-a-half in charge of the Tigers before being dismissed last month after missing out on the play-offs.

He is freely available, boasts Championship experience and is regarded as a bright, young coach. However, he was jettisoned by Hull because the chairman, Alun Ilicali, did not like the conservative brand of football he was playing, and he failed to make the play-offs despite significant spending in the January window.


Maric has figured prominently on Sunderland’s list of potential candidates throughout the ongoing recruitment process, with the Black Cats hierarchy known to be strong admirers of the 31-year-old Austrian.

Maric, who is currently employed as the head coach of Bayern Munich’s Under-19s, has also worked as part of the coaching set-up at RB Salzburg, Borussia Monchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund, and boasts experience of working in England, having been part of Jesse Marsch’s backroom team at Leeds.


Sunderland officials have held talks with Maric, who is understood to have been keen to take on his first head coach role when the recruitment process.

The problem, from a Sunderland point of view, is that Bayern have subsequently made strong moves to keep Maric at the Allianz Arena. The Bundesliga club are finalising the make-up of the first-team coaching group that will work under new boss Vincent Kompany, and have offered Maric a senior position.


The Northern Echo: QPR boss Marti CifuentesQPR boss Marti Cifuentes (Image: PA)

The QPR boss was first linked with the Sunderland job a couple of weeks ago, and since then, the prospects of him being appointed have increased as rival candidates have fallen by the wayside.

The Spaniard has spent most of his coaching career in Sweden, and led Hammarby to a third-place finish in the Allsvenskan, securing qualification for the Europa Conference League.

He left Sweden to take over at QPR last October, and impressed as he led a side that looked destined for relegation to a position of safety, six points above the drop zone.

That experience makes him an appealing option, and the Sunderland hierarchy are understood to have been paying close attention to Cifuentes when they also approached another Swedish boss, Kim Hellberg, back in December. It will not be easy to get him out of QPR though, with Sunderland having avoided appointing managers who are under contract in the past.


Heckingbottom’s name has been linked with Sunderland from the moment Beale was dismissed in December, but having had the opportunity to move for the 46-year-old at any point in the last six months, it would surely be a surprise if Speakman and Louis-Dreyfus opted to go for the former Sheffield United boss now.

Heckingbottom has been out of work since being dismissed at Bramall Lane at the start of December, but while last season was a disaster for the Blades, it should not be forgotten that he guided Sheffield United to promotion in the previous campaign.

Heckingbottom knows what is needed to get out of the Championship, and also has a bond with Sunderland, having started his playing career as a trainee on Wearside. However, he does not look an ideal fit for the model the Black Cats are adopting, and his appointment would hardly energise a fanbase that has become understandably disillusioned with the way their club is drifting.


The Northern Echo: Kevin Phillips was in charge of Hartlepool in the second half of last season Kevin Phillips was in charge of Hartlepool in the second half of last season (Image: The Northern Echo)

A wildcard, undoubtedly. But potentially an appointment that would help to unify Sunderland’s fanbase ahead of the start of the new season.

Phillips was a Sunderland legend as a player, and has cut his managerial teeth in the non-league scene with South Shields and Hartlepool in the last couple of years.

He did a decent job with Pools in the second half of last season, leading his side to safety in the National League from an unpromising position, but left at the end of the campaign when he was unable to agree a new deal.

Clearly, a lack of experience at anything like Championship level would be an issue, but are Sunderland reaching a stage where they are going to have to think outside the box?


They couldn’t, could they? Given the way last season finished, it felt impossible for Dodds to be retained on a permanent basis.

The longer the wait goes on though, the more Speakman and Louis-Dreyfus might be persuaded to stick with what they know, even if that would spark mass unrest in the stands.

Speakman and Dodds have always had a close relationship, and while results did not go to plan last term, the former remains confident the latter will turn into a successful head coach. Retaining last season’s coaching team, even on a temporary basis, would be unpopular. But it would also be cheap, and potentially buy the Sunderland hierarchy more time.