LONDON (AFP) - Sam Allardyce was hired as the new manager of Premier League strugglers Sunderland on a two-year contract on Friday.
Allardyce, who spent a season as a Sunderland defender in the 1980s, takes over from Dick Advocaat, who resigned last weekend after a draw against West Ham left his side second bottom of the top-flight table.
The 60-year-old will be returning to the north-east after previously managing his new club’s bitter rivals Newcastle.
Allardyce had taken a break from football after leaving West Ham at the end of last season, but he has been persuaded to return to management at the Stadium of Light despite Sunderland’s woeful form this season.
“I am very pleased to welcome Sam to our football club,” Sunderland owner Ellis Short told the club’s website.
“Sunderland is a club he knows well and he was the obvious best choice for the job.
“He has vast experience of managing in the Premier League and an understanding first-hand of the north east and the passion of our fans, which will stand him in great stead.”
Sunderland are yet to win a Premier League match this season, losing five of their eight games, and Allardyce arrives with morale at a low ebb following the acrimonious end of Advocaat’s brief reign.
Having saved Sunderland from relegation with a dramatic escape last season, Advocaat had hoped to revitalise the club with major investment from Short, but the Irish-American tycoon was unable to provide the required funds, prompting the Dutch coach to quit.
Allardyce could prove the ideal appointment in the circumstances, given his track record at Bolton, who he turned into a Premier League mainstay from unpromising materials, and West Ham, who were never in danger of relegation after he lead them to promotion from the Championship in 2012.
Critics will point to his failed brief spell at Newcastle in the 2007-08 season and some Sunderland fans may hold that entry on his CV against him if results don’t improve.
But, refreshed after a lengthy holiday in Spain, Allardyce is looking forward to the challenge of hauling Sunderland away from the relegation zone.
“I have enjoyed my break from football and now I’m raring to get back. I met with Ellis and we spoke at length about the club and his ambitions and I knew I wanted to be part of that,” Allardyce said.
“I hope to be able to help to bring the stability and success that everyone wants.
“Of course it’s a challenging job, but it’s something I have experience of in the past.
“I’m looking forward to working with the players and of course I will be relying on the help of the Sunderland supporters, whose tremendous passion I have experienced first-hand. I can’t wait to get started.”
Allardyce will take charge of the Black Cats’ first match at West Bromwich Albion on Oct 17.