Sunderland of the English Premier League announced on March 17 that they have hired Dick Advocaat of Holland to replace Gus Poyet as the team’s manager. Poyet was fired just 24 hours earlier after the 18th-place side was hammered 4-0 at home by fellow strugglers Aston Villa on March 14. Sunderland is just one point and one position above the league’s relegation zone with nine games to go in the 2014/15 season.
The 67-year-old Advocaat, who has managed several teams during his career including Scotland’s Glasgow Rangers and the Dutch national squad, spoke with the media after the appointment and said, “Sunderland is a big club and I am very much looking forward to the challenge ahead. We must now concentrate on playing at West Ham on Saturday (March 21) as a priority and I can’t wait to get started.”
Poyet of Uruguay was let go after 17 months and 75 games in charge. He replaced former manager Paolo di Canio, who was also fired, early in the 2013/14 season. Advocaat is now the Premier League’s oldest manager and the third Dutchman to be in charge of a team. The others are Ronald Koeman at Southampton and Louis van Gaal of Manchester United. Advocaat’s nickname is the Little General and he can boast that none of his teams have ever been relegated during his 30-year career.
American Ellis Short, Sunderland’s chairman, said Advocaat has an impressive track record and a wealth of experience at the highest level to pull from. Short admitted the new manager is facing a tough task over the last nine games, but the club isn’t in the relegation zone now and it has to at least remain in 17th place before trying to climb the standings
Advocaat has managed teams from all corners of the globe and has twice been in charge of his homeland’s senior national side. He’s also managed the national teams of Russia, Belgium, South Korea, Serbia and the United Arab Emirates with varying levels of success. His last post was with Serbia, but he was let go in November after having served just four months of a two-year deal.
He’s also worked with several top club teams. He won the Scottish cup and league double on two occasions in four years with Rangers between 1998 and 2002 and has also won league crowns with Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia and Holland’s PSV Eindhoven. This is the fourth consecutive year Sunderland has replaced their manager during the season. Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neill, Di Canio and Poyet were all handed their walking papers before lasting an entire season, however, the club has still managed to stay afloat in the Premier League, but just barely.
Advocaat inherits a team that has just four wins in 29 league games this season and bet365 lists the odds of them beating West Ham on March 21 at 7/2 with the Hammers 4/5 and a draw at 5/2.