On Thursday the bookmakers' could barely separate Martin O'Neill and Mark Hughes in the Next Sunderland Manager Betting, but last night O'Neill emerged as the favourite for the job after holding talks with Sunderland's chairman Ellis Short and the club's international development director Niall Quinn. According to many media reports O'Neill is now on the verge of signing a deal to become Sunderland's new boss, with his appointment due to be confirmed in the next 24 hours. Steve Bruce was sacked on Wednesday, with a poor record of just two wins from 13 league games this season.
O'Neill has been out of management since he sensationally quit Aston Villa just days before the 2010/11 season. He has since been linked with numerous high-profile jobs but has opted to remain in the wilderness until now. The 59-year-old has a vast amount of experience having been in charge of the likes of Villa, Leicester City and Celtic and is believed to be a popular choice among the Sunderland supporters. If the deal falls through then Mark Hughes will be waiting in the wings. Hughes has experience of working on a small budget and is reportedly very interested in the vacancy.
The immediate focus for the new manager will be to snap Sunderland out of their recent slump and get them moving back up the table. The Black Cats have just two wins to their name all season, which has seen them drop to 16th, just two points above the relegation zone. They have some crunch upcoming games against fellow strugglers Wolves and Blackburn, whose managers are currently under-fire in the Next Premier League Manager To Be Sacked Odds. Sunderland travel to Molineux to play Mick McCarthy's Wolves on Sunday, which is live on Sky Sports 1 at 4pm. With home advantage Wolves are the 13/10 favourites with Paddy Power, while Sunderland can be backed at 21/10, with a draw available at 23/10.
Odds provided by Paddy Power.