LONDON • Sam Allardyce has become the first man to manage both Sunderland and Newcastle United after agreeing a two-year contract to succeed Dick Advocaat at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland's players will be introduced to the former West Ham, Blackburn, Newcastle and Bolton manager early this week, before Allardyce takes charge of his first game at West Brom next Saturday.
Then comes a spicy reunion with last-placed Newcastle and their fans, when Steve McClaren's side visit Wearside the following Sunday.
"Sam was the obvious best choice for the job," said Ellis Short, Sunderland's owner who has been dismayed by the second-from-bottom team's failure to win a Premier League match so far this season.
"Sunderland are a club he knows well. He has vast experience of managing in the Premier League and an understanding, first-hand, of the passion of our fans, which will stand him in great stead."
Briefly a Sunderland centre-half during the early 1980s, Allardyce had been enjoying a sabbatical following his departure from West Ham in May. However, Short challenged the view that he took some persuading to end it in order to return to Sunderland.
"Nothing could be further from the truth," said the American financier. "From the very beginning, he understood the importance of this job and showed great enthusiasm for the role and a desire to be part of moving this club forward."
Even so, Allardyce, 60, remained in Spain for much of the past week, leaving preliminary negotiations to Lee Congerton, Sunderland's outgoing sporting director, and his representatives before finally meeting Short on Friday.
"I've enjoyed my break from football and now I'm raring to get back," he said.
After a recent experimentation with the director of football system, Sunderland are expected to revert to a more traditional model, with Allardyce enjoying considerable autonomy over, among other things, transfers.
Congerton, currently working his notice after resigning, will not be replaced.
THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON