Sunderland owner Ellis Short has identified his number one target for the vacant manager's job at the Stadium of Light after dispensing with the services of Martin O'Neill.
The 61-year-old was shown the door on Saturday night just hours after his side lost 1-0 at home to Manchester United - a decision former Reading manager Steve Coppell described as a "spoilt-brat reaction".
Press Association Sport understands Short has drawn up a shortlist of potential successors headed by a man he believes can reinvigorate the squad for a seven-game run-in which will determine where the Black Cats will play their football next season.
They are currently just a point above the Barclays Premier League relegation zone after a run of eight games without a win.
Former England boss Steven McClaren, whose second spell at Dutch club FC Twente came to an end last month, was swiftly installed at the top of the bookmakers' list of candidates, although sources close to the 51-year-old have since distanced him from the speculation.
It is understood there had been no contact with former QPR manager Mark Hughes, while the man who took the Champions League trophy to Chelsea, Roberto Di Matteo, is not thought to be interested.
Former Swindon boss Paolo Di Canio's odds shortened considerably overnight while Brighton's Gus Poyet was also receiving strong support, although Sunderland are keeping their own counsel over their main target.
The new man will be Sunderland's fifth manager in a little more than four years, and the first the Texan will have chosen since Niall Quinn's departure as chairman.
And Coppell feels that tendency to chop and change is indicative of the approach of overseas owners.
"You can only presume there was some dialogue after the game," he told BBC Radio Five Live. "We are in the realms, I'm afraid, of spoilt-brat reactions because it is their toy. They don't understand the history and heritage of British football - there are so many foreign owners, I have nothing against that, but there is a way of doing things in English football that has now gone out of the window."