Derek McInnes so nearly became Sunderland’s manager before the start of the 2016/17 season. The Chronicle reports that the Aberdeen boss agreed to take over from David Moyes on Wearside before developing cold feet and changing his mind.
Just a few months on, however, and McInnes is once again being tipped to leave Pittodrie after leading The Dons to three straight second placed finishes. The Daily Record repot that the 45-year-old is Rangers’ first choice option to replace Pedro Caixinha at Ibrox.
Though you get the feeling that there is a real glass ceiling at Rangers right now. The Glasgow giants have underperformed and underwhelmed since returning to the Scottish top flight in 2016 but how far could McInnes actually take them?
There is no sign of Celtic’s domination ending any time soon, having finished 39 points ahead of their Old Firm rivals last season. The best McInnes could possibly hope for is a runners-up spot and a domestic trophy – and even than might not be enough for a demanding fanbase desperate to knock Celtic off their perch.
You could make the argument, then, that McInnes would have less to lose taking charge of a Sunderland side in crisis. The Black Cats sacked Simon Grayson on Tuesday but the former Preston boss’ reputation is unlikely to take much of a hit despite winning just one of 15 Championship games.
After all, spiralling debt and a lack of funds, Sunderland spent the lowest of any second tier side in the summer transfer window, means Grayson has an excellent excuse for the club languishing in the relegation zone.
If McInnes succeeded at Sunderland, he would have pulled off something of a miracle. If he failed to stop the slide, then he could hardly be blamed.
At Rangers, however, expectations are higher and there is no real excuse for failure with the club devoting more money to creating a competitive and talented squad. Catching Celtic, however, still seems improbable, if not impossible right now.