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Top six favourites to become new Sunderland manager

In this article, we take a look at the top six favourites to become new Sunderland manager following a sacking on Sunday evening.

Sunderland have announced that they sack their manager Phil Parkinson after 13 months in charge of the third tier based club.

Friday’s draw at Fleetwood was a third league game without a win for the Black Cats, leaving them eighth in the League One table.

The ex-Bolton Wanderers and Bradford City boss, 52, replaced Jack Ross at the Stadium of Light in October 2019 and led them to eighth place last season.

Parkinson’s assistant Steve Parkin has also left, with first-team coach Andrew Taylor to take caretaker charge.

So who are the top six favourites to become new Sunderland manager? Take a look at what the bookies are saying below…

6) Daniel Stendel

Stendel was most recently in charge of Scottish outfit Heart of Midlothian, being appointed in December 2019, on a contract due to run until the summer of 2022.

In March 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, Scottish football was put on hold indefinitely. To help Hearts during this period, Stendel refused to take any wage payments. Hearts were bottom of the 2019–20 Scottish Premiership at the time the league came to a halt, and were subsequently relegated when the league was curtailed.

Stendel had a clause in his contract which meant that it was no longer in effect if Hearts were relegated from the Premiership, and the club appointed Robbie Neilson to replace him on the 21sst of June 2020.

Prior to that, he was manager of Barnsley, which turned out to be a successful spell, before he got the axe, which caused anger from the fanbase.

It was on the 6th of June 2018 when he was named as manager of the then League One club on a two-year deal. Stendel led Barnsley to an immediate return to the second tier following relegation in 2017-18, with the South Yorkshire side finishing second in League One and going through the entire campaign unbeaten at home.

On 8 October 2019, Stendel was sacked as head coach following a run of ten games without a win. Stendel’s departure sparked widespread criticism of the board.

Stendel won 31 of his 66 games in charge of the club, the third highest win ratio of any permanent manager in the club’s history.


1994–1997 – Hamburger SV II – 77 games (35 goals)
1995–1997 – Hamburger SV – 7 games (0 goals)
1997–1998 – SV Meppen – 34 games (13 goals)
1998–1999 – FC Gütersloh – 31 games (5 goals)
1999–2006 – Hannover 96 – 180 games (43 goals)
2006–2007 – FC St. Pauli – 15 games (2 goals)
2007–2008 – Hannover 96 II – 19 games (4 goals)
Total – 363 games (102 goals)


2016–2017 – Hannover 96 – 34 games, 17 wins 9 draws, 8 defeats, 50.00 (Win %)
2018–2019 – Barnsley – 66 games, 31 wins, 18 draws, 17 defeats, 46.97 (Win %)
2019–2020 – Heart of Midlothian – 17 games, 5 wins, 5 draws, 7 defeats, 29.41 (Win %)

Sky Bet odds say: 22/1

5) Jocelyn Gourvennec

Jocelyn Gourvennec is a French football manager and former player. He played as a midfielder for clubs such as Lorient, Rennes, Nantes, Marseille, Montpellier, Bastia, Angers and Clermont.

He’s also managed La Roche, Bordeaux and had two spells with Guingamp, the most recently ending in 2019.

Following the end of his playing career, Gourvennec got into management, being named as Guingamp’s manager in May 2010. In May 2014, he led Guingamp to success in the Coupe de France for only their second time by beating his old club Rennes. In May 2016, Gourvennec took up the helm of Ligue 1 team Bordeaux.

On 8 November 2018, Gourvennec returned to Guingamp as their new manager after sacking Antoine Kombouaré. On 22 May 2019, the club announced that he had left the club by mutual agreement, after Gourvenenc was unable to guide the team to safety and the season ended with relegation to Ligue 2 for the first time since the 2003–04 season.

La Roche – 1 July 2008 until 17 May 2010 – 53 games, 25 wins, 12 draws, 16 defeats, 47.17 win %
Guingamp – 17 May 2010 until 27 May 2016 – 275 games, 123 wins, 58 draws, 94 defeats, 44.73 win %
Bordeaux – 27 May 2016 until 18 January 2018 – 71 games, 28 wins, 19 draws, 24 defeats, 39.44 win %
Guingamp – 12 November 2018 until 24 May 2019 – 32 7 11 14 30 48 −18 21.88 win %
Total – 431 games, 183 wins, 100 draws, 148 defeats, 42.46 win %

Sky Bet odds say: 20/1

4) Nigel Pearson

Nigel Pearson was sacked back in July 2020 after a defeat away at West Ham United, yet looked to be guiding them to safety towards the end of the season.

Instead, he was axed with the club in 17th, assistants Hayden Mullins and Graham Stack took over on a caretaker basis for the final two games of the season, which then saw them drop into the relegation zone, then finish in 19th position on the final day.

Pearson has previous experience of helping a side escape deep trouble, having led Leicester to safety in 2015 when they were to the foot of the table at Christmas.

Pearson won the Championship and League One during his time with the Foxes between 2011 and 2015.

His most recent job was with Belgian First Division B side Oud-Heverlee Leuven but lasted 17 months, left them bottom of the table with just 22 points from 24 games and there were many fan protests to get him out of the club.

A few years back, he was linked to become the new manager of QPR, Bolton and Sunderland, but he didn’t get the job.

Sky Bet odds say: 12/1

3) Paul Cook

Paul Cook is currently out of work having departed from Wigan Athletic who are in administration.

In August 2020, the Latic’s relegation to League One was confirmed due to the points deduction on the final day, despite a cracking run of form, subsequently saw the resignation of the manager.

Cook has previously managed Portsmouth, Chesterfield, Accrington, Sligo and Southport – winning the League One title with Wigan in 2017/18, the League Two title with Pompey in 2016/17 and with Chesterfield in 2013/14.

Sky Bet odds say: 4/1

2) Danny Cowley

Cowley was most recently was sacked by Huddersfield Town, despite beating second-place West Brom in his last game in charge, which all-but-confirmed the club’s survival.

It’s understood that owner Phil Hodgkinson wanted total control over transfers — but his manager was not willing to work that way.

Danny first grabbed the attention of the country when he and his brother took Lincoln City all the way to the FA Cup Quarter Finals in 2017, causing shocks against Ipswich, Brighton and Burnley along the way.

The Imps finished the 2016/17 season crowned champions of the National League and then in the 2017/18 season finished 7th, claiming a playoff place in their first season back in the Football League and also won the EFL Trophy at Wembley.

In the 2018/19 season, Danny and Nicky Cowley’s side finished top of the League Two table and won promotion to League One.

Danny Cowley left League One high flyers Lincoln to join the Championship strugglers in September, who at the time were 23rd in the table having failed to win any of their first six matches.

Sky Bet odds say: 3/1

1) Gus Poyet

This is what bookies favourite Gus Poyet said about Sunderland return. Poyet, who left the Black Cats in 2015, has previously said he’d be open to a return to the Stadium of Light one day.

In recent weeks – prior to Parkinson’s dismissal – he told the ‘Speaking Sunderland’ podcast: “Could I return? Yes, of course,” said Poyet.

“Because there are things that are still possible to change. It’s a different situation, but it’s something that…when you’ve been in a club and you’ve been so close to people and then everyone watches the series ‘Sunderland Til I Die’ and the first thing they do, is they call you and ask you (about it).

“You’ve been there, and it confirmed things you already told them because that’s what ‘Sunderland Til I Die’ does, confirms to people things I told them when I left Sunderland.

“It’s like, you want to go back because it’s typical South American passion, you know, the fans. So, that relationship we made with the fans, even if it didn’t finish in the best way, I am still thinking that it’s possible to do something important there.

“It’s easier when you know how much it (the club) means to the fans, how important it is to the city, so yeah, of course (he would go back).”

Sky Bet odds say: 4/5

Kevin Phillips – 22/1
Lee Johnson – 22/1
Nigel Adkins – 22/1
Ralf Rangnick – 22/1
Derek McInness – 25/1
Eddie Howe – 25/1
John O’Shea – 25/1
Jonathan Woodgate – 25/1
Marcel Koller – 25/1
Mark Hughes – 25/1

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