Cats Contenders

A look at those in the running to take charge at Sunderland

Sunderland's decision to part company with head coach Paolo Di Canio means there is a vacancy at the Stadium of Light.

Whoever takes over will have a tough job on their hands, with the Black Cats propping up the Premier League after a poor start to the season which has brought just one point from five games.

That dismal opening cost Di Canio his job on Sunday, but who is in line to succeed the Italian?

Here, we take a look at some of the contenders.

Roberto Di Matteo

Has been out of work since being sacked as Chelsea boss in November 2012. Started his managerial career at Milton Keynes Dons before joining West Brom. Led the Baggies to promotion to the top flight but was dismissed in February 2011. Gained his big break when he was appointed as Andre Villas-Boas' assistant at Chelsea before becoming caretaker boss when the Portuguese was sacked. Promptly led the Blues to an FA Cup and UEFA Champions League double. Became permanent manager in June 2012 but lasted just five months before the axe fell.

Sky Bet odds: 8/11

Alex McLeish

Has struggled to replicate the success he enjoyed in his native Scotland since trying his luck in England, but collected numerous major honours at Rangers and toasted League Cup success at Birmingham in 2011. Forgettable spells at Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest mean he has much to prove, with McLeish having lasted just seven games at the City Ground before walking away in February.

Sky Bet odds: 8/1

Gus Poyet

Left Brighton in acrimonious circumstances but won many admirers on the south coast for a style of play which led the Seagulls to promotion out of League One and to the Championship play-offs. A former Uruguay international, also enjoyed playing spells with Chelsea and Spurs in England.

Sky Bet odds: 11/2

Kevin Ball

A Sunderland legend who made close to 400 appearances for the club during a nine-year spell in the 1990s. A no-nonsense midfielder, he remains one of the Black Cats' best-loved former stars. He has been handed the managerial reins on a caretaker basis - a role he has filled once before back in 2006, when he oversaw just one win in 10. Ball has no prior experience of life as a number one, but he has worked alongside several high-profile bosses at the Stadium of Light.

Sky Bet odds: 20/1

Tony Pulis

Left Stoke after a hugely successful seven year spell - his second at the club. Guided the Potters from a mid-table Championship outfit into a formidable Premier League force. Unlikely to be a popular choice given his reputation for long-ball football.

Sky Bet odds: 7/1

Steve McClaren

Still mocked by many for his disastrous spell in charge of England, McClaren's club record is not without merit. Cut his managerial teeth at Middlesbrough before taking on the Three Lions job which ended in the sack after failing to guide the side to the 2008 European Championship finals. Rebuilt his reputation by leading FC Twente to the Eredivisie title but struggled subsequently at Wolfsburg, Nottingham Forest and in a second spell at Twente.

Sky Bet odds: 16/1