Belfast Telegraph

Dick Advocaat won't stay on as Sunderland near safety

Everton 0-2 Sunderland

By Tim Rich

If Sunderland hoped the Dick Advocaat effect would last beyond the end of the season, they are likely to be disappointed.

The man who has overseen what appears to be the club's latest successful attempt to avoid relegation joked that his marriage would be at risk if he continued any longer than the nine matches he was given to save the club.

"No, no, no I'll get a divorce," he said, when asked if he could see himself carrying on. "This is my last job. I have had a great career and won a lot of prizes and am really enjoying what I am doing now. Hopefully, we will stay up - if not I will still have enjoyed my time at Sunderland."

After Saturday's 2-0 win at Everton, which was against the odds, the run of play and every other statistic the game cared to throw up, the likelihood is that Sunderland - who have become to the art of escapology what Southampton and Coventry were in a previous generation - will cling on.

It will be tight. They have a game in hand over the other clubs jostling to avoid the final relegation place, but it is at Arsenal - and their season finishes at Stamford Bridge. However, should they overcome Leicester City on Saturday, it will give them 39 points and it would be hard to imagine Hull City matching that.

However, the very fact they have been on the brink so many times is the clearest reason why Advocaat is best advised to leave. Sunderland require major surgery and for that they will require a young, ambitious and ruthless manager. The "Little General" is 67 and this will be his last campaign.

Had Sunderland escaped with the panache they displayed last season when they become the second club to avoid relegation after being bottom of the Premier League at Christmas, perhaps Advocaat could have been tempted into a final fling.

Their victory at Goodison Park came about thanks to two deflected shots - one off a centre forward, Danny Graham, who had not scored for the club since being signed by Martin O'Neill two years and four managers ago.

Advocaat admitted his team had been lucky to leave Merseyside with three points. It is not much of a foundation for a radical rebuild and, asked if keeping Sunderland up would rank among his finest feats, Advocaat laughed: "No. I have won 15 titles."

Belfast Telegraph


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