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should he stay or should he go...
darling you've got to let me know

Dick Advocaat has officially been offered the Sunderland job, and is expected to make his decision by Thursday. A few key elements will dictate whether he accepts the job however; financial backing, input in transfers and of course, whether or not his Mrs is on board! I think we all know that if you want to do something and your Mrs doesn't want you to, you're better off just not doing it. Big dick explains: “I have to make the decision next week, and I will tell the people from Sunderland on Thursday what I will do. I have to discuss some things with the family, first of all. Secondly, I also want to know what the club will do with players. This squad needs four, five or six regulars - not quantity, but quality. If they cannot do that, okay, but then I definitely will not stay. That’s one part of the cake, the other part [convincing his family] is more difficult!

“We cannot spend hundreds of millions, but we can do it like Southampton, like Swansea and Stoke. You don’t need to buy only in quantity, you have to buy in quality, otherwise keep the money in your pocket. You can waste your money. I think in the past, there’s been too much focus on quantity, rather than players who make the team better. That’s the most important thing in my opinion.”

Advocaat very much had retirement in mind when he took the Sunderland job, and he expected to be booking extended holidays by now! Dick said: “I’m not going to lie, yes, I thought that would be it when the two months were up. But I felt quite early that this is a big club - 43,000 people always there. If you become a bit successful here as a team, wow, that’s what you work for. The facilities are unbelievable, a beautiful stadium, and if you can do a job like this at the final part of your career...”

“What I saw on the pitch after the Arsenal game (the celebrations) was brilliant. That’s what you work and talk about for so many days. (When you take charge) you don’t know if the players accept it, if they feel the same as I feel. That’s the most difficult thing. But, from the beginning, we saw it at the training ground. That gave us the feeling we could do the job.”

The gaffer also admitted that he is considering not playing Lee Cattermole after another booking for the midfielder would mean a 3 game ban starting next season: “Yes, I’m tempted not to play him. It’s too big a risk. He cannot change himself, so for him, it’s better not to play.”

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DICK has not flopped!...
By tom atkinson

Elation. Joy. Euphoria. Just a few words that epitomise the Mackem nation's emotions after Sunderland's draw at the Emirates. I for one was hooting and hollering when the final whistle went; yet after my heart rate had plummeted back to normality I began to wonder what lies ahead for our misfiring club.

The biggest question right now is that surrounding Dick Advocaat's future at our club. I know some people have pointed out that both Advocaat and Poyet both pulled of miraculous great escapes, and we should bring in a new manager now while we still have the chance because Advocaat is a great tournament manager... blah blah blah. Yet, consider the fact that Advocaat had less than ten games to save a sinking ship, whereas Gus Poyet had over half a season. After eight games in charge big Dick has managed to steer us to three wins, three draws and a couple of losses. He has instilled a real sense of steel, mettle and discipline into a squad lacking in desire and passion; furthermore, he's an authoritative figure who seemingly has the respect and attention of the current squad, unlike his last two predecessors. His achievements at this club have a real weight behind them solely because of the limited time frame he has had in order to reverse the club's ailing fortunes on the pitch.

Even the no fuss manner in which he conducts himself during interviews and press conferences fills me with confidence. Nothing is ever a problem, he doesn't whine and moan, he simply gets on with the job and focuses on the task at hand. He really seems to be an genuine man with a great understanding of the game.

But will he stay?

I, like 99% of the Mackem nation, genuinely hope he does. There was a quote in his press conference after the Arsenal game that makes me think he will:

“We have one owner and don't have the money other clubs have, we have to be very proud of the chairman. He has spent millions - but the quality wasn't always there. But hopefully now he can start with another set-up, bringing less players but with more quality than they have in the past.”

One word – 'we'. To me, it seems as though Dick Advocaat is already planning ahead for next season. He knows what he wants and is realistic about the targets the club can hope to lure to the North East. I would like to think that “another set-up” is his set-up. His staff and a handful of carefully considered transfer targets who can add that quality he (and we) so desperately desire. After all, Advocaat is right when he points out that we don't have the financial power of a lot of other clubs, he clearly wants wise spending on quality, rather than quantity. I feel like that statement was almost a jibe at Di Fanti and even Congerton's efforts in the last couple of summer windows - bringing in free agents and lacklustre signings galore with little to show for it. Advocaat is a realist, and that's exactly what Sunderland need right now in order to progress as a club.

Advocaat, however, was adamant that he won't reveal anything about the job until next week. In the meantime that allows us to bask in the glory of Premier League survival at the expense of former-fan favourite and Mrs. Doubtfire impersonator, Steve Bruce (that was sarcasm). Or Monsieur Carver and his travelling circus. Too difficult to choose one over the other! Let the good times roll.

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DICK OFFERED JOB...
DECISION NEXT THURSDAY

Ellis Short has offered Dick Advocaat the Sunderland manager's job on a permanent basis and the Dutchman reckons he will give us his decision next Thursday. Big Dick Advocaat had this to say: "They have made me an offer, yes. It is in principle not so important in that way, it is also important what the club wants. Can they invest or not? That's also important to know for myself before I take that decision."

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From May to August
By Derek Thomas

End of season and yet again a Groundhog Day escape from Sunderland. You couldn’t make it up could you?

I had a dream last night. It started off well enough. It was end of season, five years time. The national papers were full of the demise of Newcastle FC. The collapse of Sports Direct and the intertwined finances with the football club had left Newcastle debt ridden and insolvent. The points deducted by the Premier League had already relegated them. Great start!

The Echo led with Ellis Short expressing his delight that Sunderland’s manager of the last five years had signed a new three year contract. "The stability and progress he has brought to the club has been phenomenal. We are within touching distance of a place in the Champions League.” said Ellis.

Getting better. I like this dream. Meanwhile Lee Congerton had already been busy building for next season. “The demands of the Champions League mean we need strength in depth” he was quoted as saying. This is what every Sunderland fan wants to hear and I was hearing it.

The Echo confirmed that both of our main central defenders, John O’Shea and Wes Brown, had signed three year extensions to their existing contracts. With Virgini’s loan agreement up again this summer, the contract extensions were essential, said the Echo. Hold on, this dreams going the wrong way all of a sudden.

Meanwhile BT/Sky, the new digital sports channel, was saying Sunderland’s real concern was still lack of goals. Sunderland scouts have been watching Rooney, Messi and Darryl Murphy. One of them would be signed soon, their website predicted. The Echo echoed this (sorry). The open top bus parade through the City to celebrate the 20 goals Defoe had already scored for Sunderland had been cancelled. Plans were on hold until the autumn in the hope he might reach the tally before the onset of the cold weather. As a dream, things weren’t going well at all.

The ALS website then led with ‘I don’t believe it!!!!’ (Editor’s note: this was our second choice headline. The original included a reference to a bottle of Double Maxim and it was thought some readers might be offended by the waste of good beer.)

News had reached ALS that following Riverire’s retirement; Congerton had signed Phil Bardsley to replace him. Bardsley had been managing a casino and girlie bar in Stoke for the last three years. “Phil will be able to fill any position equally well. He always gives 100% flat out.” an insider was quoted as saying.

The dream moved on, I couldn’t control it, to a hotel just outside Seaham. It was 9am and the BBC were interviewing the Sunderland manager and a senior player. “There is constant talk of a drinking culture in the Sunderland dressing room.” John Motson launched straight in. “Well...”

The manager paused as the waitress brought two fresh Bacardi and cokes and took away the four empty glasses.

“Service here is first class. Attentive but not in yer face as they say. And good measures. Ample and top quality barcadi too. Nothing but the best. You were saying, John?”

Meanwhile the Echo had also interviewed Sunderland’s manager, who was delighted with his extension. “The house needed it. It was too small. What? Oh the contract extension! Why, people called me potato ead when I first came 'ere. Now, second time around, they see me in a new light. Five years of steady progress. Why this season we were three points above the relegation zone by Christmas. We can kick on from that man. A think am goin to make me son tha captain next season. Bridcott’s had his chance. Now Newcastle’s relegated Sund’land’s position in the League is secure, again, well unless we lose to Chelsea this weekend. We can plan ahead. A have to thank tha fans. The fans ave done it. Their support for the team was crucial, especially in our one nil thrashing of Middlesborough. A only wish they’d think of a new song about me, or at least change the words of the last line of the chorus.”

Dream? This wasn’t a dream anymore. It was a nightmare - a recurring nightmare.

Mind you, the dream wasn’t all bad. I missed out the bit where I saw Jack Colback, out of contract at Newcastle, busking with his banjo outside Poundland. That bit was good. I gave him 10p, but I kept the bag of Double Maxims for myself. Footballers shouldn’t drink alcohol. I woke up, sweating. Thank goodness, I was back in 2015. End of season. We were safe for another year.

Forget the nightmare. Time to think positive. Time for the club to plan for a better next season. Time for Congerton to earn his money. Think long term, think big. Time to escape the Groundhog Day scenario we find ourselves in, year in year out, year in year out...

...and yes, I do believe we can do. I believe it every year. It’s a nice dream.

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ready for the weekend...
We want DICK to stay

What a difference a week makes! This time last week, we were nervously anticipating what would happen, checking every detail and statistic of the games that matter, franticly searching for team news and praying for results to go our we, now we can just sit back and enjoy. Big Dick has done a remarkable job in ensuring our safety and putting our minds to rest, now the only bit of anticipation left in our season is whether he will or won't stay. According to reports, a staggering 96% of us want him stay on. How boring must our pub debates be now if we're all agreeing for once? Steven Fletcher also hopes the Little General will stay, saying: “It's been a remarkable turnaround since Dick came in. He's only been here a couple of months but you could see at the end what it meant to him. He's a very passionate man. It would be nice if he stayed on but I think he's already made up his mind that he's not going to take it. It would be brilliant for us if he did stay because the job he's done here has been fantastic."

And he's not the only one, Jermain Defoe has praised the changes Big Dick has made on the pitch and mentally for the players, adding: “It’s part and parcel of football that a new manager comes in, new players come in. You have to get on with it and do your job. The lads will go away and have a good rest. Every game you play is difficult and for me the most important thing is that whoever comes in we start the season flying and get the points on the board early doors. I had a new manager all the time at Tottenham, it could be unsettling but you need to trust your manager again, different formations, different styles, players. We will see what happens. We don’t know who will be the manager, if Dick will take the job. We will see. He has got us organised, with sharpness and intensity in our play. When you are out there you need to work hard for the team, he has brought that but when you are out there it can be so difficult for the team. It would be nice if he could stay, all the lads want him to stay. But it’s down to him and it will be his decision. If he does stay it will be nice for the football club. What impressed me with him is that we had a meeting before the Arsenal game. He was so relaxed and that rubs off on the players. He was really positive, relaxed even at this stage before such a huge and difficult game and that’s credit to him. His CV is unbelievable and if he stays he will be fantastic.”

One key element in the run in has been the return to form of a number of players since Advocaat's arrival, non more so than Sebastian Coates, who might also remain on Wearside beyond this season despite his loan deal running out after Sunday's clash with Chelsea. “Yes, it’s something I’d consider if it became a possibility,” he said. “I don’t know what is going to happen yet, I have to go back to Liverpool and then we’ll see. It’s good to play and to show what I can do after the manager has had confidence in me. Every player needs games and sometimes that’s the key. We suffered at the end at Arsenal because they played very well. But we knew we needed a point and now we can enjoy the final day at Chelsea. It was a hard game, but I think we deserved that point and deserved to stay up. We’ve had five or six games where we knew we needed to get some points and we have done that. It’s good to look at the table now and to know we’re staying up. It’s important that we don’t have to go to Chelsea needing to get something because they are the champions and they are in form. If we’d lost at Arsenal, it would have been crazy because you’re worrying about the other games. Now it will be difficult, but we can enjoy it.”

One player who would be happy to see the Uruguayan stay is Costel Pantilimon, who has seen an improvement in the side’s defensive performances in recent weeks: “I appreciate he’s a young player, but I’m not sure people realise that he’s won a lot of caps for the national team,” said Pantilimon. “He’s played in the Copa America. Now he’s showing it here and he’s helped us in these last few games. You’ve got to take your chance when you get it in the Premier League and he’s showing he can be part of this team. It’s not only him. We’re showing that we can be part of this team and we have to believe that we can be successful. Every save I make is to help the team. It’s my job, Football is all about teamwork and I’m happy I can work with these players and I can be part of this team. It was a tough game at Arsenal and we had a little bit of luck but sometimes you need that, especially under such big pressure when it’s not easy to play in a fight against relegation. It has been a tough few weeks but we are happy now and we can enjoy it together. Importantly, so can the fans.”

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Now What?
By Nick A

Safety assured! But now the questions have changed from will we, won't we, to what will happen now? Questions about Big Dick's future will roll on until after Sunday's match at Champions Chelsea and if not Advocaat then who will be the best candidate. Right now though we can look at those being linked with Sunderland in the transfer market and who might be the new heroes at the Stadium of Light! So here's a look at those who might be joining him this summer. 

Virgil van Dijk: £4.4m:
The Celtic centre half has regularly been linked with a switch to the Premier League and Sunderland may be the place! Ronny Deila is likely to want to keep the Dutchman, who is also believed to want European football after spells in the Champion's league with the Scottish Champions. However, two summers have passed since Van Dijk was first linked with a move south of the border, so time may be running out with European football being his compromise.

Danny Batth: £660k:
Unless you're a keen follower of the lower leagues, you might be forgiven if you've not heard of the Wolves defender. The 24-year-old has been at the Black Country side since the age of 10 but has become a top priority for the Black Cats this summer, with the likes of John O'Shea and Wor Wes coming to the end of their careers. After narrowly missing out on a play-off place with Wolves this season, it seems that Batth, who is valued at less than £1m, seems to be a realistic target in the window.
 
Collin Kazim-Richards: £1.5m:
The former Blackburn striker has had mixed fortunes since leaving English football. Now 28, Richards has had successful spells in Turkey and has impressed will 11 goals on load at Feyenoord from Bursaspor. If we want to sign him, we might have to put up a fight and pay well over the players £1.5m value.

Micah Richards: Free:
The Manchester City right-back has failed to make an impact in Italy following his loan move to Fiorentina, making just 10 appearances for the Serie A outfit. Richards has 179 appearances to his name for Manchester City, but since the reign of Roberto Mancinni, the England international had struggled to hold down a place in the starting line-up before his summer switch. Still, there has never been a doubt about his potential, so a free move north seems a no-brainer for us!

Danny Ings: Free:
It seems everyone's been linked with the Burnley striker and now we've been added to the list of suitors. Like with Van Dijk, Newcastle have been repeatedly linked with a move for Ings, but they might go down yet so you never know! Would be nice to pinch a few from under their noses. The 22-year-old has scored 10 goals this season but has been a little hot and cold of late. Still another free transfer would be a good move for the Black Cats.

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Post Arsenal Blog
By Joshua CaRR

So we did it again. Despite being written off by most pundits we’ve secured our Premier League status for another year. But where do we go from here?

First of all, it was nice to see a performance where just about every player gave their all and you could see what it meant at the end of the match. Coates has turned his game around since coming into the squad, Larsson doesn’t ever stop working and Pantilimon is just a hero.

Then there’s Dick. Despite being curious about his appointment it’s safe to say we all love Dick now and from his tears at the end of the game, it’s clear to see we’ve got under his skin.

As he embraced his assistant, Bert van Lingen, I must admit I choked up a little. To see how much it meant to Dick was special. Whether he will stay is another question.

I would happily give Dick the job despite being 67 years old but could the tears have been because it was his last job in management and he’s been on one hell of a journey with van Lingen?

Congerton has a huge job on his hands to ensure we aren’t in a relegation scrap next season. As Advocaat said, we have a great infrastructure we just need to use it to its full potential.

Despite having a thin squad, there’s a lot of people I’d sell. Connor Wickham would be the first on that list. Yes he may be young and have potential but we need someone who’s firing on all cylinders consistently.

He may look like a unit but Wickham very rarely puts his physique to good use. I think he needs more protein shakes because at the moment Shaun Wright-Phillips could knock him off the ball.

I didn’t think I’d ever be so happy for Sunderland to draw their seventeenth game this season and their ninth 0-0. It’s just such a relief knowing we won’t be involved in the relegation scrap on Sunday and leave it down to the two teams I hate most in the Prem, Hull and Newcastle.

As much as I would to see Newcastle go down I can’t help but feel that draw against West Brom the other week has seen them safe. I also can’t see Hull beating Man United.

Since that god awful Barclays advert aired with Shearer bullshitting about his first match Newcastle have failed to win a match. He goes on about how he was lifted in the air. I wish someone had dropped the b*****d.

Anyways, enough Shearer hate. Not that you can have enough Shearer hate but I think them lot will be safe meaning we can make it seven in a row next season.

Steve Bruce and Hull going down is the second best thing to Newcastle going down. We never beat Hull and it’ll wipe that smug grin off his elephant heed.

We need to build now over the summer to avoid this happening again but I can’t help but feel that next season is going to be another struggle.

To end, I would just like to say we are class at football and Lee Barry Cattermole is Jesus. Keep the faith and always always always fuck the Mags.

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Mel Loves Big Dick...
ALS Blog

I have found it a challenge to put words down over the last few months without sounding like a total miserable whinger. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely delighted that we have guaranteed our EPL status, however, I am still mightily pissed off that it went down to the penultimate game of the season for our security and my sanity!

Last season was our best shit season ever, this season has been a long drawn out miserable time with very few highs! I went into the game yesterday with mixed emotions thinking we could get the mother of all royal kickings. That said, whilst it was certainly not a beautiful game, I saw something yesterday that has been a rarity.  Steely backbone, gritty determination and a group of men looking like the wanted to be there and play as one team. 

So, come Sunday, our friends up the road or, the horrible fat pastie eater (I’ll get off the fence and say what I really think later) will be in big trouble. Whilst I maybe in the minority, I really hope that the skunks survive and maybe this will give Bruce something in addition to his removal from SAFC to be bitter about.

Derby days for me are “Showtime” toe curling excitement mixed with a good dose of fear and dread, my season would be a poorer one without them. I love the banter, rivalry and passion that the derby generates. On the other hand, I have the urge to sling the TV out of the window whenever I have the misfortune to witness Bruce spout his usual bollocks and his “poor me” tales of fiction about his victimisation, comparing himself to war veterans and it was all because he is a Geordie. Clearly, he must have assumed that the statue outside the SoL of our very favourite Geordie Bob Stokoe was actually Freddie Kruger!  Not once has he acknowledged his sacking was down to his piss poor management and leadership skills!

We must learn from this, the madness and constant flirtation with relegation simply cannot and should not continue. We as fans have shown nothing other than fanatical support despite what has been thrown at us. I don’t think that Big Dick is new manager phenomenon, he appears to be a realistic, rational, no nonsense coach that understands our weak spots but has been able to patch together some decent results/commitment from the team. I personally would like him to stay, even for a season and set out some balance and stability which I believe we all crave.

I made no secret of my love affair of the heart for Gus and I am sorry that it didn’t work. However, I am happy to shout loud and proud – I LOVE Big Dick and I want him to stay!

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What A night
By Eve Sayers

What a night that was. And what a man Advocaat is.

The Dutchman came in, our form was shocking, the players had no confidence and the club was infused with negativity, the Dutchman has completely turned things around.

It was pleasing to see Advocaat stick to fielding three strikers rather than playing a team to sit back and invite pressure.

Getting a point from the Emirates was always going to be a tough ask but it was a terrific defensive display from the lads. For all the times they’ve let us down this season, it was a great performance from everyone involved.

Seb Larsson couldn’t deserve the Player of the Year accolade more if he tried, what a warrior the Swede is. He was clearly hurting in the last quarter of the game but carried on and gave his all.

Costel Pantilimon deserves a special mention too, the giant pulled off some world-class saves. What a bargain Costel was.

I was a bit skeptical about the half-time subs but Advocaat knew what he was doing and they paid off as we got the job done.

With Advocaat stating he has no doubt we’ll stay in the Premier League before the game, I was worried his comments would backfire but he was right.

And now the big ask is do we keep Dick or not? He instills belief and confidence into the team and goes out to play positive attacking football. He has he experience and the fact he cried on the final whistle last night shows that he has the passion.

I wouldn’t offer him the job too hastily as we have done before but it’s certainly something to consider.

If Advocaat doesn’t fancy the job on a permanent basis then Short has a big job on his hands, he has to get this one right as we cannot be in the same situation again next season. I’ve seen enough relegation battles to last me a lifetime and don’t think I can stomach another one.

David Moyes was a flattering link as I think someone like him could work wonders at Sunderland, he did a good job at Everton with very little funds and wasn’t given as half as much as Van Gaal at United. Although I can’t see Moyes coming here.

Paul Clement from real Madrid was another name that’s been thrown about, though he’s never managed himself, working with Ancelotti and being assistant at Real Madrid isn’t a bad thing to put on your CV.

Big Sam is second favorite behind Dick, I’m not sure how I’d feel about the link. It certainly wouldn’t be a bad appointment but I wouldn’t say he’s the best we can get but of course we’ve got to be realistic.

On an end note, how on earth have we only lost 6 away games this season? It feels like it’s being a season of misery but I suppose losing just 6 away games (not including Sunday of course) isn’t a bad stat.

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news, news, news...
good day

Well, we did it. Another season of torture and nerves but we've survived. Even Big Dick was reduced to tears and am sure a few of you were as well. Now here's to hoping the Dutchman will stay and it seems he's got the players vote too as Jermain Defoe said: “It would be nice if he could stay. I think all the lads would like him to stay. But at the end of the day, it’s down to him. It’s his decision and we’ll see what happens. But if he does stay, it will be good for the football club. Obviously there was a lot of pressure, but we always tried to remain positive. We knew before the game that a point would be enough. It’s not always easy going into a game knowing that a point will be enough. People might think it’s easy to just defend, not score, but it’s difficult at a place like Arsenal. There’s not many teams who will go there and stop Arsenal scoring. But credit to the boys and everyone involved. We’ve got rewarded. Towards the end, we could feel the tension, and when we won the ball back, you try to create something. But you’ve got to be clever. It was a one-off game, and we’re just delighted.”

The 'little general' remained quiet on his future during his post match press conference, though he did explain why he got so emotional, even though most of us will have been with him all the way! "We have always said it was not about me, it was everybody involved, from the president to the people in the office and the team. The team believed in what we were trying to do from day one, but nobody believed we would do it here against a great team. I always told them to believe in their quality. To have done it on our own, this gives me a special feeling.”

Big Dick tried to regain a bit of his pride by saying he'd never been that emotional before, but no-one was judging him for it at all, well not up here at least, if anything he became an even greater hero! “The emotions came when my friend Bert van Lingen (Sunderland assistant coach), we have done 25 years everything together, when he arrived on to the pitch and he started crying then. I did the same but he said 'let it go', and I said, 'okay, why not'. If I stop this will be the last job, and (if I continue) it will be this one. This is the moment for Sunderland Football Club to do something also. You cannot buy eight players for £40million, so you have to try to get more quality into the squad and make the team stronger. We have to be very proud of our chairman and what he is doing but the quality was not always there. Now hopefully he can start on a new set-up, bringing more players of quality than he did in the past.”

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post ARSENAL craic…
REACTION

There are many things that have brought me close to tears but never Big Dick – but Advocaat has done just that, he himself was in tears as we survived for another year after yet another dramatic escape. Here’s what the lovable Dutchman has said so far: “Arsenal had the possession but you know if you keep trying you get your chances. In the second half we had chances and we had to score. Arsenal were the better side but the organisation was unbelievably good. The emotion was so high. We only lost one in the last six and that is why they deserve to stay in. Our defence was great. An unbelievable feeling we did it by ourselves. The players gave everything to stay up. It is a beautiful stadium, facilities are great, but last couple of years not always lucky with things we have done. The players started believing. I will give an answer next week on my future.”

Niall Quinn reckons we should give the job to Big Dick and fast! "This man has got the first-team organised. He hasn't worried about anything else. He's worked with them on the training ground and he's guided them over the line his way. It's been a pleasure to watch because it looked lost before he came in. He's kept it all to himself, said very little in his interviews, he's took all the strain and he's taken the sting out of it for the players. The pressure that was on the players, he removed it. It's a remarkable effort from a great man. Things looked very bad six weeks ago. Dick Advocaat came in to a demoralised dressing room and a demoralised stadium. He's come in and organised them. It's been Tony Pulis-like, in that he stopped them knocking the ball around for the sake of it and got them going more direct."

Meanwhile, Costel Pantilimon was buzzing after the match and had this to say: “It’s a happy day because we needed a good result which we got tonight and we are very happy. We showed that we are a good team and that we can defend, especially in this game against a very good team. Every save I make is to help the team. It’s my job. Football is all about teamwork and I’m happy I can work with these players and I can be part of this team. It was a tough game and we had a little bit of luck but sometimes you need that, especially under such big pressure when it’s not easy to play in a fight against relegation. It has been a tough few weeks but we are happy now and we can enjoy it together. Importantly, so can the fans.”

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Plan b...
By NiCK A

After spectacularly steering us to safety, I with most SAFC fans want Dick Advocaat here next season; however, we thought we'd look at the other contenders for the hot seat, according to the independent oddschecker.com.

Paul Clement: 23/5:
Carlo Ancelotti's number two at Real Madrid has constantly been linked with a return to the Premier League as a manager. With the Italian's future in doubt at the Bernabeu, it seems that this summer may provide the perfect timing for Clement to take the reigns and Sunderland may provide the perfect fit. Of all the front runners, the former Chelsea assistant would be the biggest gamble, as assistants who make the move to managers have a mixed record in the league. Steve Clarke and Chris Houghton showed that coaches can make the successful jump up to management with promising spells at Newcastle, Norwich and West Brom, while, examples like John Carver, currently at Newcastle and Rene Mulensteen at Fulham show it isn't always easy.

Sam Allardyce: 6/1:
Big Sam's future at West Ham has been thrown into major doubt over the past few weeks, with their away trip to Newcastle expected to be his last game in charge. The Hammers have been linked with a move for Sunderland target David Moyes and Rafa Benitez in recent days to take them into the Olympic Stadium and a promising new future. Allardyce could be seen as something of a safe option with a proven track record in the transfer market and in keeping teams in the division. While questions will always be asked about his style, Sunderland fans may be keen to see the former Newcastle boss come in, at least in the short term, to stabilise the team and pull them away from constant relegation battles until the club is ready to move on.

Billy Davies: 19/2:
The former Nottingham Forrest manager seems to be something of a surprise inclusion in the top five on the odds market. Davies was in charge for when Derby County were promoted to the Premier League back in 2007, but was sacked in November that year for disagreements with the board over the clubs transfer policy, as Derby went on to record the worst points tally in a Premier League season. Davies has been out of a job since March 2014 after he was sacked in his second spell at Forrest after failing to replicate the success he had in his previous tenure where he finished third in the Championship behind West Brom and Newcastle in 2010. His lack of Premier League experience might put off Sunderland fans who seem to want a young hungry manager or someone with a proven track record.

Claudio Ranieri: 19/2:
The Tinkerer has often been linked with a return to England after leaving Chelsea in the early stages of the Abramovich revolution. Since his time in England, the Italian has had spells with, Valencia, Juventus, Roma, Inter, Monaco, and the Greek National side with mixed success. There is no doubting the 63-year-old has a vast knowledge of the game with great experience, but it has been more than a decade since he last took charge in a league game in England and his dismal performance with Greece has left questions over his ability to perform to the high standards he once held. Still he has a great reputation in England and has always been seen as something of a tactical genius who could lead Sunderland down a completely different path to an Allardyce or Advocaat.

Other Contenders:
Charlie Oatway 19/2
Don Hutchison 19/2
Eddie Howe 19/2
Frank Rijkaard 19/2
Gareth Southgate 19/2
Steve McClaren 78/5.

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