Simon Grayson arrived at the Stadium of Light this summer hoping to be the man who could lead this crisis-ridden club back to a sense of normality. It’s fair to say he did not expect to be packing his bags after just 15 Championship games.
Just 17 minutes after a 3-3 draw with fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers that left Sunderland just two points off the bottom of the Championship, Grayson was given his marching orders.
Considering that he won just one of 15 league games, chief executive Martin Bain certainly had a point when he said that results simply had not been up to scratch (BBC) – regardless of the whole host of off-field distractions which has turned a previously attractive job into something of a poison chalice.
Former Black Cats hero Kevin Phillips, then, would be a brave man if he chose a Sunderland side seemingly in danger of successive relegations to be the first club in his managerial career.
BetVictor have installed the 44-year-old, who has coached in an assistant role at both Leicester City and Derby County, as the current favourite to replace Grayson at the Stadium of Light. Though hugely inexperienced for such a pressurising role, Phillips’ connections could at least give Sunderland access to some potentially exciting transfer targets in January.
And perhaps a player he watched score a hat-trick on his senior debut will come into his thoughts if Phillips returns to the club where he enjoyed the finest spell of a storied playing career. Joe Dodoo shot to fame with a hat-trick in Leicester City’s 4-1 League Cup win over Bury in August 2015, a month before Phillips left for Leicester.
As a master marksman in his own playing days, Phillips will no doubt appreciate Dodoo’s speed and poaching ability – two attributes a largely toothless Sunderland attack have lacked all season.
The 22-year-old currently faces an uncertain future at Scottish giants Rangers, having been loaned out to Charlton Athletic for the season. Therefore, if made available in January, he’s likely to come cheap.
Could Phillips get the best out of Dodoo at Sunderland? It's difficult to think of a man better qualified to do just that.