Who should Sunderland turn to if Big Sam gets the England job?
Sam Allardyce has done an excellent job on Wearside. Having kept the Black Cats up in a dramatic finale at the end of last season, one that saw rivals Newcastle United fall through the trap door into the Championship as a result, it is no surprise their manager is being linked with the England job once again.
According to the Guardian, Allardyce is set for talks with the FA this week, ten years after he was last shortlisted for the role following the departure of Sven Goran Eriksson. That time, the then Bolton manager was pipped to the post by Steve McClaren.
But now, with Roy Hodgson consigned to the scrap heap of England managers that nobody will look back on fondly, Allardyce may finally get his long awaited calling.
England bound? Sam Allardyce
As a result, Sunderland will have a major task to replace a manager who for the first time looks like he may be capable of bringing stability to a side who are almost perennially fighting off the threat of relegation.
Nonetheless, should he exchange the Stadium of Light for the home of English football, Sunderland do have options available to them, and they should be bold and consider the likes of Manuel Pellegrini, Guus Hiddink and perhaps even Chris Hughton as replacements.
Pellegrini is an option Sunderland should take seriously.
Yes, he managed a former English champion in Manchester City, and yes he may have managed the giants of Real Madrid in the past. But Sunderland should not be perturbed by his extensive CV.
Indeed, for an ambitious club, he is exactly the kind of manager they should be looking at. You only have to look at Rafa Benitez at Newcastle to see that big names are obtainable.
Pellegrini wants to stay in the Premier League
Pellegrini has made it perfectly clear that he wants another job in the Premier League, and as soon as possible. Speaking after his final game in charge at the Etihad Stadium and quoted by Sky Sports, he praised the English top flight as one of the best leagues in the world, and in no uncertain terms made it clear he hopes to stay in England.
"I am fortunate to work in five countries, but the Premier League is the most important in the world," he said. "The stadiums are full capacity, a party every game, fans uniting and singing. The atmosphere. It is important for managers to have this experience."
Having missed out on both the Everton and Southampton jobs, - vacancies that many would have seen him as a natural fit for especially in light of his success at Villareal - Premier League vacancies are currently few and far between.
But should Allardyce leave Sunderland, that could change very quick, and the North East based club should be bold in their appointment.
Thinking about Wearside? Guus Hiddink is another option
With that in mind, former interim Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink should also be shortlisted for the role.
Hiddink has flirted with English football twice now in plush West London, winning an FA Cup in his time, as well as picking up the pieces of a Mourinho induced implosion at the Bridge, overseeing a recovery that whilst not producing silverware nor a European finish, rejuvenated Chelsea into playing football that vaguely seemed worthy of champions.
The Dutchman has been linked with the England job, with the Daily Mail reporting that he could be in line to pave the way for a younger successor.
But, should he miss out to Big Sam, he should be considered to take on the role on Wearside. His extensive experience makes him a coveted option, with 25 years of management to his name, taking on roles from PSV to Real Madrid to South Korea in their host World Cup year.
These two options would be a strong statement from the Black Cats, but a perhaps more left-field appointment would be former Newcastle manager Chris Hughton.
A left-field appointment? Chris Hughton
Granted, a former Magpie does not always roost so easily on Wearside. His Newcastle history will always be a blot on his copybook from a Sunderland perspective.
But his treatment at St James' Park should offer him a chance at Red and White reprieve. Acrimoniously sacked in December 2012, to the disgust of many associated with the club including icon Alan Shearer, Hughton was sent out the door due to his 'lack of experience', despite returning the club to the top flight in record time.
Hughton has continuously proven himself to be a top manager. His time at Birmingham City following his Newcastle departure was an impressive success, securing a top four finish with the Blues whilst also competing in the Europa League. That is no mean feat.
His time at Norwich was less successful, but he twice kept them of clear of the drop - an 11th place finish in 2013 was followed by a tighter affair in 2014, but despite being five points clear of the bottom three, he was given the boot with five games to go.
Hughton's success at Brighton needs no introduction. Agonisingly close to promotion last term, only to be denied by Boro on the last day of the season, his ability to adapt to different circumstances at different clubs makes him an option worthy of consideration on Wearside.
If Allardyce does want to take over the reins at the pinnacle of English football, Sunderland should not be overly concerned about a future without their current boss.