Dick Advocaat is looking forward to the challenge that lies await at Sunderland after agreeing a short-term deal to become the embattled club’s head coach.
Last weekend’s embarrassing 4-0 home defeat to fellow strugglers Aston Villa proved the catalyst to Gus Poyet’s demise, with the north-east outfit bringing his 17-month reign to an end on Monday.
The Black Cats have wasted little time in naming a replacement, with the vastly-experienced Advocaat announced as successor within 24 hours.
The 67-year-old has been given the reins at the Stadium of Light for the remainder of the season and is charged with halting Sunderland’s slide as just one point separates them from the drop-zone with nine matches left.
“Sunderland is a big club and I am very much looking forward to the challenge ahead,” Advocaat said.
“We must now concentrate on Saturday as a priority and I can’t wait to get started.”
A trip to West Ham lies in wait for Advocaat as Sunderland look for a much-needed win which would be only their second in 13 top-flight matches if they manage it.
Avoiding relegation will be a big ask but the Dutchman looks as well placed as any to do so, given he has more than 30 years management experience.
Advocaat has twice coached the Netherlands, as well as the national teams of the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Belgium, Russia and, most recently, Serbia.
He has won league titles in his homeland with PSV Eindhoven, at Russian club Zenit St Petersburg and with Rangers, securing the league and cup double twice.
This is Advocaat’s first role in English football yet Sunderland chairman Ellis Short is confident he has the right man.
“Dick has an incredible CV and vast experience of managing at the very highest level,” Short said.
He added: “We have one aim only now — to climb the table and everyone is fully focused on the task ahead of us.”
The appointment did not come as too much of a surprise, given the former Rangers boss was mentioned as soon as news of Poyet’s demise emanated.
Whether Advocaat can keep the Black Cats up will play a huge role into the level of replacement they can attract, with the Dutchman a temporary measure ahead of a long-term summer appointment.
Former Sunderland defender Sam Allardyce, whose contract at West Ham expires at the end of the season, has been strongly linked with the post, as have Real Madrid assistant Paul Clement and Derby boss Steve McClaren.
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