Sunderland are determined to take their time in the search for a new manager after the gamble on the volatile Paolo Di Canio backfired spectacularly.
Roberto Di Matteo is the obvious front-runner and Telegraph Sport understands he already has a relationship with the club’s director of football, Roberto De Fanti, via mutual friends.
However, there are other names under consideration and owner Ellis Short wants to make sure he has a full picture of every candidate’s character, as well as their strengths and weaknesses, before he makes a decision.
Sunderland sources have insisted the search for a new manager starts as a blank canvas and Short will wait to see who applies for the job before deciding on a shortlist.
The priority for Short is to employ a manager who can heal a dressing room that has been savaged by Di Canio and which looks desperately short on confidence as a result.
Former Brighton manager Gus Poyet was also under consideration when Di Canio was chosen to replace Martin O’Neill in March and, like Di Matteo, is out of work, so Sunderland would not have to pay compensation.
Watford manager Gianfranco Zola may also be interested, while former England manager Steve McClaren would be interested in talking to Short and De Fanti if they would prefer to go back to a British manager.
Short has been badly stung by the Di Canio farce and will not make the same sort of mistake again. Although he will listen to advice from De Fanti, he will have the final say on the appointment.
The new manager will have to repair the damage done to team morale by Di Canio with the club rooted to the foot of the table. Di Matteo has the man management skills to do that, as he proved with Chelsea, and also has a Champions League on his CV.
Di Canio’s management style has been criticised by several of his peers. O’Neill was incensed by claims from his successor that he inherited a squad not fit enough to succeed in the Premier League, but the harshest words have come from another former Sunderland manager.
Hull City manager Steve Bruce has accused Di Canio of ruling by fear, a tactic he always believed would end in failure because of the nature of Premier League footballers.
“You cannot manage in the Premier League these days through a fear factor,” Bruce told TalkSport. “You’ve got to be able to manage individuals.
“Man management has become more relevant in my experience than coaching. Once you get yourself in the Premier League, they’re all good players and you’ve got to find a way of getting the best out of them.
“It’s never been my style to criticise anyone in public and I’m disappointed for Paolo. He’s a character. A manager’s lost his job.
"Management is a lonely place and he’s lost his job this morning. I feel sorry for any manager in that position. I’ve gone through it and it’s not nice.”