Sunderland set to appoint Poyet
Gus Poyet is close to being appointed as the new Sunderland manager.
Press Association Sport understands the 45-year-old Uruguayan and Black Cats owner Ellis Short are on the verge of agreeing a deal which would see him take over from the sacked Paolo Di Canio, with an announcement expected within the next 24 hours.
Poyet would become the sixth man to have held the post on a permanent basis inside the last five years, and Short will hope he can bring the kind of long-term stability which has eluded his most recent predecessors.
There was no official comment from the club on Monday, with sources indicating no announcement was imminent.
However, the odds on the South American, who has been a long-standing favourite to fill the vacancy, getting the nod tumbled dramatically overnight as Sunderland prepared to make a decisive move after spending a fortnight assessing their options.
They parted company with Di Canio after just 175 days on September 22 following the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship between he and his players.
Senior professional development coach Kevin Ball was asked to take over the reins in the meantime and has presided over a 2-0 Capital One Cup victory over Peterborough and much-improved performances in Barclays Premier League defeats by Liverpool and Manchester United.
Ball had asked to be considered himself, but as he took leave of journalists after his post-match press conference on Saturday evening, there were hints that he did not expect to be conducting another in the near future.
Poyet has been out of work since his acrimonious departure from Sky Bet Championship Brighton during the summer, the club famously sacking him, he claimed without his prior knowledge, while he was live on air working as a BBC pundit.
He had previously guided the club to the 2010-11 League One title 17 months after taking the job, and took them to last season's Championship play-off semi-finals, where they were beaten by eventual winners Crystal Palace.
He has made no secret of his interest in the job at the Stadium of Light, saying recently: "When I left Brighton, I thought I would be in England until at least January.
"I planned that, over the first matches of this season, I would pay a lot of attention to the teams I thought could be in trouble.
"Of course, I watch Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester, but there was a group of teams who, if they didn't start well, I thought I could have a chance.
"I was watching Sunderland a lot. People were talking a lot about them in the summer because of Paolo and how many new players they had, so I have seen quite a lot of them."
Poyet has no experience of managing in the English top flight, where he enjoyed huge success as a player with both Chelsea and Tottenham, and, like Di Canio, would be an unknown quantity at that level.
However, with the Black Cats determined to maintain the "continental" structure they have put into place with Roberto De Fanti operating as director of football, he might prove more amenable than some potential candidates who have worked in more traditional set-ups.
De Fanti and chief scout Valentino Angeloni recruited 14 new signings during the recent transfer window, all but one of them from overseas, and Di Canio's team was a work in progress.
But while the Italian insisted results would turn sooner rather than later, they are yet to do so with Sunderland rooted to the foot of the Premier League table having collected just one point from the 21 for which they have played so far.