Heckingbottom ‘not yet offically approached’ by Black Cats
SUNDERLAND are yet to make an official approach for Paul Heckingbottom, according to reports.
The 40-year-old is one of the favourites for the Black Cats job, which has been vacant since Simon Grayson was sacked a fortnight ago.
And although the interview process has now begun, Sky Sports are reporting that the Oakwell club have not been approached about the bookmakers’ favourite.
Heckingbottom is born in Barnsley, but began his career in the Sunderland academy. He did not make a senior appearance for the first team, but had spells with Gateshead, Hartlepool United, Darlington and the Tykes among others.
In February 2016 he started his managerial career at his hometown club, where he has carved out an impressive reputation on a tight budget. He won promotion in the League One play-offs at the end of his first season. Barnsley beat Sunderland 3-0 at Oakwell in August, and are nine points above the bottom-of-the-table Black Cats with a game in hand.
Out-of-work Aitor Karanka and Ally McCoist are others who have been linked with the job, and the fact some interviews have apparently taken place in Leeds suggest the Spaniard – still based in Yorkshire after being sacked by Middlesbrough – may have been spoken to if Heckingbottom has not. The Daily Star are reporting there is a four-man shortlist.
Sunderland have won one of 16 games in this season’s Championship, and are therefore in real danger of back-to-back relegations.
Robbie Stockdale has been taking training this week after joint caretaker Billy McKinlay left to join West Ham United on Sunday.
Sunderland’s next game is at home to Millwall on Saturday and having sacked Grayson in the lead-up to the international break, they would surely have hoped to have had someone in place by then. Club sources are adamant at because the appointment is so important, they are determined to take their time, and potential candidates might also want to do their homework after David Moyes admitted he regretted not doing his ‘due diligence’ before taking the job last season.