Following a disastrous campaign that culminated in Premier League relegation, and the subsequent resignation of David Moyes, Sunderland are desperate for a new manager.
The club have to get it right after going through six permanent managers since Steve Bruce was sacked in November 2011.
The new boss has to rebuild a squad that has been unstable for too long and the Black Cats have now made their move – Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes.
But what can Sunderland fans expect from the 45-year-old Scot who has received plenty of plaudits in his time at Pittodrie.
McInnes the Manager
After a playing career that took in spells at Greenock Morton, Rangers, West Brom and Dundee United, amongst others, McInnes’ first managerial gig was at his final club St Johnstone.
Owen Coyle had just departed the Perth side for Burnley and midfield man McInnes stepped up to take the reins in 2007.
His skill as boss soon showed as he guided the Saints back to the Scottish top flight in 2009, after a seven year absence, and the side continued to impress in the Premiership.
In 2011 Bristol City approached St Johnstone for McInnes’ services and he was soon unveiled as manager at Ashton Gate.
Despite City’s struggles in the Championship, the Scot managed to save the side from relegation but he was promptly fired the following season after failing to build on the success.
McInnes now admits it was a mistake to move to Bristol but he was soon back in management when he was unveiled as Aberdeen manager in 2013, following the retirement of Craig Brown.
Aberdeen had been mediocre for several years but, under the former West Brom captain, the Dons grew as a team, winning the Scottish League Cup in his first season, before they comfortably established themselves as the second best team in Scotland behind Celtic.
But it looks as if that cycle may be coming to an end.
With several high profile players leaving Aberdeen, their manager could be tempted into departing for Sunderland – a side desperate for someone to rebuild their squad and their pride.
McInnes has shown he is capable of both tasks north of the border.
The Promised Sunder-Land?
The Black Cats may have become a Premier League laughing stock in recent years, before the inevitable relegation arrived, but there is still something to work with at the club.
With a big rebuild on the cards there are already players McInnes can use as starting blocks – not to mention the parachute payments that will help ease the impact of dropping to the Championship.
For example, Paddy McNair, Duncan Watmore and tough tackler Didier N’Dong are three players that might just stick around and prove successful in the Championship.
Additionally, with several disastrous loan players gone and a handy £30million fee incoming from the sale of Jordan Pickford, McInnes can go out and add players with a budget that will have been totally alien to him at Aberdeen.
Obviously a large part of recruitment comes down to what owner Ellis Short is willing to give but, throughout McInnes’ Aberdeen tenure, he had to recruit via a range of loan deals and free transfers.
Only once did the Dons boss get to splash the cash and that was £275,000 on Kenny McLean from St Mirren – a man who has since been called into Scotland senior squads.
McInnes’ Aberdeen side were also a good passing team, typically set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, but he wasn’t afraid to go for broke if necessary.
His methods brought success but the fan base was entertained throughout, something Sunderland fans badly need after years of abject and dreary displays.
All of this is positive for Sunderland fans – McInnes can recruit on a shoestring budget, improve players with his leadership and guidance, and he has developed a brand of football that everyone can get behind.
If he does join Sunderland he will not want to be seen as a Championship failure again, following his time at Bristol City.
McInnes will bring unity and a renewed determination to succeed.