Sunderland begin search for new manager after Dick Advocaat opts to leave
Sunderland are looking for their eighth permanent boss in less than seven years after Dick Advocaat opted not to extend his stay on Wearside.
The 67-year-old described his nine-match reign as one of the highlights of his career, but ultimately decided not to take up chairman Ellis Short's offer of employment on a longer-term basis.
Advocaat said: "At certain moments in your life, you have to make a decision and I am almost 68 years old now. A number of clubs contacted me, but the decision was always Sunderland or nobody.
"I would like to thank the chairman, [sporting director] Lee [Congerton], the staff and of course the fans. We gave everything in our time there and achieved what we set out to. Sunderland has been one of the highlights of my career."
The news came as a blow not only to Short, but to the club's fans too with a poll conducted by the Sunderland Echo attracting a 96 per cent "yes" vote for the Dutchman after he inspired a second successive great escape.
The Black Cats were in severe danger of being sucked into the thick of a relegation fight when they decided to part company with head coach Gus Poyet in March and appointed Advocaat on a temporary basis.
He swiftly harnessed his resources, leading the club to a derby victory over Newcastle in his second game, and ultimately collected 12 points from his spell in charge, the last of them from a 0-0 draw at Arsenal which ended their fears with a match to spare.
Short said: "Although I am extremely disappointed, I understand and absolutely respect his decision. In his brief time here, he made a real impact and lifted the club with his experience and enthusiasm. We will always be grateful to him for what he achieved."
Advocaat had indicated before his arrival that his stay would be only temporary - indeed, he had promised his wife as much - but he freely admitted the club had got under his skin.
However, he had voiced the opinion that the squad he inherited from Poyet needed to be significantly strengthened this summer whatever happened, in terms of quality rather than quantity, and that task will fall to Congerton.
Congerton and Short now also face the task of recruiting a replacement for the former Holland boss with Newcastle, West Ham and Derby among those clubs in a similar position.
Outgoing Hammers manager Sam Allardyce has been touted as a possible replacement because of his links with Sunderland, although he would not fit readily into the model employed by Short during his time on Wearside.