For the bookies and the media pundits, Sam Allardyce is now pretty much the only show in town.
In other words, if you have voted in the Salut! Sunderland poll for Michael Laudrup, Nigel Pearson, Frank De Boer or “others”, not listed above but including Brendan Rodgers and David Moyes, you will have to accept that Big Sam is Ellis Short’s clear first choice and the pair are already talking terms or about to start.
If the Mirror story is to be believed, Allardyce is ready to come to Sunderland but only with Short’s acceptance of his main demands.
The big bonuses for him and his staff should they keep us up will present no problem. Nor will Sam’s insistence on choosing his own management team, reuniting him with Neil McDonald, Blackpool’s current boss, as his No 2 and possibly Martin Glover as head of recruitment.
But the other condition may prove tricky. Sam reportedly wants full control over transfers. Advocaat did not have that, nor did Poyet or Di Canio.
Short is known to prefer the head coach/director of football arrangement and, even then, exercises hefty control over who goes and more importantly who comes. Advocaat has cited frustration over transfers, leaving him with a squad he considered too weak for Premier survival. Our DoF seemalike, Lee Congerton, is leaving with apparently similar grievances.
So it would be a huge and expensive concession for Short to relinquish some of his power as owner and also loosen the purse strings.
On the other hand, does he not stand to lose out heavily if Sunderland go down, with the bumper new Sky deal offering any club a grand incentive for still being in the Premier next August.
The other contentious demand – the right to bring in Kevin Nolan – is one Sam will have to square with the fans rather than Short.
Safe to say some tonight talking is in prospect, maybe in progress. Can Short be persuaded relegation would be more costly than giving Allardyce a free hand, albeit with a budget? If it is true, as I have seen mooted, that the idea is to given Sam a contract only until the end of the season, do we really want yet another short fix that leaves all the familiar problems unresolved?
Your guess is as good as mine on how it will go.