DICK Advocaat is looking forward to the challenge that lies in wait at Sunderland after agreeing a short-term deal to become the embattled club’s head coach.
Last weekend’s embarrassing 4-0 home defeat to fellow strugglers Aston Villa proved the catalyst to Gus Poyet’s demise, with the north-east outfit bringing his 17-month reign to an end on Monday.
The Black Cats have wasted little time in naming a replacement, with the vastly-experienced Advocaat announced as successor just 18 hours later.
The 67-year-old former Rangers manager has been given the reins at the Stadium of Light for the remainder of the season and is charged with halting Sunderland’s slide as just one point separates them from the drop-zone with nine matches remaining.
“Sunderland is a big club and I am very much looking forward to the challenge ahead,” Advocaat said upon his appointment.
“We must now concentrate on Saturday as a priority and I can’t wait to get started.”
A trip to West Ham lies in wait for Advocaat as Sunderland look for a much-needed win which would be only their second in 13 top-flight matches if they manage it.
Avoiding relegation will be a big ask but the Dutchman, who is known as the ‘Little General’, looks as well placed as any to do so, given he has more than 30 years management experience in club and international football, including a four-year stay at Rangers.
During his Ibrox reign between 1998 and 2002 Advocaat secured the domestic treble in his first season and then guided the club to the league and cup double the following year.
He also won league titles in his homeland with PSV Eindhoven, and at Russian club Zenit St Petersburg, with whom he savoured Uefa Cup success when he guided them to a 2-0 win over Rangers in the 2008 final.
Advocaat has twice coached the Netherlands, as well as the national teams of the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Belgium, Russia and, most recently, Serbia. This is Advocaat’s first role in English football yet Sunderland chairman Ellis Short is confident he has the right man.
“Dick has an incredible CV and vast experience of managing at the very highest level,” he told the club’s official website, www.safc.com. “We have one aim only now – to climb the table and everyone is fully focused on the task ahead of us.”
The appointment did not come as too much of a surprise, given Advocaat was mentioned as soon as news of Poyet’s demise emanated. He will be assisted by first-team coach Zeljko Petrovic, his No 2 with Serbia, as well as ex-Swansea and England Under-20 goalkeeping coach Adrian Tucker. Paul Bracewell, Sunderland’s academy coach, will also support the Dutchman for the final nine games of the season.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS