After just 13 league games at the helm of Sunderland AFC, Paolo Di Canio has been relieved of his duties as manager following the club’s poor start to the season. The early market vibes suggest there’s a clear front-runner to replace him in Roberto Di Matteo, who is 3/4 favourite.
Di Canio’s arrival last season acted as the shot in the arm the Wearsiders needed having slipped into a relegation-courting malaise under a Martin O’Neill regime that had lost its spark.
However, the Black Cats failed to win again under the Italian after the two victories in their first three games that did so much to secure priceless Premier League survival.
Even before the 3-0 loss to West Brom which ultimately brought about his demise The Mirror had reported that Di Matteo was being lined up to replace his countryman if results didn’t improve and the ex-Chelsea boss rates a logical choice.
Having come in to the post-Andre Villas-Boas maelstrom at Chelsea, he has experience of restoring harmony and team-spirit to a club, as well as winning both the FA Cup and the Champions League.
Behind him in the next Sunderland manager betting three more unattached managers in Gus Poyet (4/1), Tony Pulis (11/2) and Alex McLeish (9/1) rate the most credible challengers at this early stage.
McLeish’s miserable failure to form a coherent team from the bloated remains of O’Neill’s spendthrift Villa Park tenure doesn’t bode well for a squad in need of rejuvenation, whilst Pulis comes with a results-before-beautiful-football warning.
As a result Poyet arguably rates the more appealing rival to Di Matteo, having taken Brighton from the third tier in 2009 to the brink of the Premier League with the Championship’s most miserly backline last season.
Meanwhile, former Black Cats stalwart Kevin Ball may rate an interesting outsider at 16/1 having been handed the caretaker reigns, but his previous record of one win in 10 games as temporary boss at the Stadium of Light makes it hard to see him emulating fellow assistant-turned-manager Ricky Sbragia.