Sunderland identify Poyet as prime target
Uruguayan’s representatives have been contacted as Mackems seek to replace Di Canio
Gus Poyet is expecting a call from Sunderland as the seek to replace Paolo Di Canio after the Italian was sacked on Sunday. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Sunderland will attempt to persuade Gus Poyet that to succeed Paolo Di Canio at the Stadium of Light after the Uruguayan emerged as the leading candidate to fill the vacant managerial position at the Premier League’s bottom-placed club.
Ellis Short, Sunderland’s owner, met his board on Monday night, 24 hours after Di Canio’s dismissal, with the hierarchy including the director of football, Roberto De Fanti, and the chief executive Margaret Byrne, identifying Poyet as their preferred choice.
Contact has been made with the former Brighton manager’s representatives and is expected to intensify during the coming days but Sunderland are well aware they will have to work hard to convince the 45-year-old his future lies on Wearside.
Poyet, an ambitious 45-year-old who is out of work and therefore immediately available, has some reservations about moving to a club that currently props up the Premier League table with a solitary point after five games, and whose squad underwent a radical overhaul over the summer with 14 players signed – 13 from abroad – and other key personnel moved on. The scale of the task required to reverse the decline is large and with De Fanti having considerable autonomy in the recruitment sphere Poyet could not influence transfer policy as much as he would hope to.
De Fanti would hope to persuade Poyet that this is an opportunity to not only manage in England’s top division but unlock the club’s immense potential.
The Uruguayan, who came close to joining Reading last season, was sacked by Brighton in June, having been suspended by the club in the aftermath of the play-off semi-final defeat to Crystal Palace, and is still considering legal action against his former employers having always denied the accusations of gross misconduct levelled at him by the Championship club.
Poyet’s name rose to the top of Sunderland’s shortlist after it became clear that Roberto Di Matteo, the former Chelsea manager, was cool about the post. The Wearside club’s board do, however, have other potential candidates in mind as they seek a tracksuit manager willing to work under De Fanti.
Steve McClaren fits that description and it has not gone unnoticed that he previously worked successfully with John O’Shea and Wes Brown at Manchester United and Lee Cattermole and Adam Johnson at Middlesbrough.
Meanwhile Gianfranco Zola, Watford’s manager, has appeared to rule himself out of contention by stressing his desire to finish the job he has started at the Championship club.