Stuart Pearce has emerged as a leading candidate to take up the Sunderland hot seat after a flurry of weekend bets saw odds shorten on the former England Under 21 boss.
Pearce, who last managed in the Premier League as Manchester City boss between 2005 and 2007, started the weekend at odds as long as 66/1 but was backed into prices as short as 2/1 as a number of large wagers were placed.
The market has since cooled, but the man affectionately known as ‘Psycho’ is still available at 14/1 to take up the Black Cats’ challenge, making him fifth favourite in the betting.
The Dutchman, who served as arguably the most successful number two to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, would certainly bring an attractive style of play to the Stadium of Light but with Fulham manager Martin Jol increasingly under pressure, Craven Cottage appears a more suitable fit.
Given the names in the frame for the role Pearce is perhaps not the most obvious choice and seems unlikely to be welcomed by Mackems fans.
However, after the calamitous Di Canio era the one-time Newcastle player could be just the man to resurrect the other side of the Tyne-Wear divide.
Having shipped 14 goals in their first six games it is apparent that sorting out the defence is a priority for the Black Cats and as a player heralded as an uncompromising left-back Pearce has the know-how to pull it off.
His Manchester City side finished 15th in 2005-06 but conceded just 48 goals across the season – a total not beaten by any other side outside that season’s top eight.
He guided the Citizens to a slightly better 14th the following year but shipped just 44 goals – 10 fewer than Tottenham who finished just outside the Champions League places.
With the likes of John O’Shea and Wes Brown in Sunderland’s defensive ranks it stands to reason that the club’s owners could be tempted by a man who could get the best from their experience and build a solid foundation.
The teams’ long-term future will obviously require more creativity and flair to appease the Wearsiders’ army of loyal fans but the current predicament requires plasters to be stuck over the holes in a leaking ship and Pearce looks to be the man with the first aid kit.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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