Sunderland boss David Moyes is in no immediate danger of losing his job despite presiding over a dreadful start to the new Premier League season.
Saturday’s 2-0 defeat by fellow strugglers Stoke left the Black Cats rooted to the foot of the table and without a win from their opening eight fixtures, which have yielded a paltry two points.
But Press Association Sport understands Moyes, who is a hot favourite with the bookmakers to be the next top-flight manager to lose his job, is safe for now.
That may not go down well with fans who have seen the club scrap its way to safety over the final weeks of the campaign for the last four seasons, and heard its latest manager admit within weeks of his arrival that a fifth successive survival battle is more than likely.
Indeed, some are even calling for predecessor Sam Allardyce’s return following his brief and ill-fated spell in charge of the England national team.
However, Sunderland are desperate to end a cycle which has seen no fewer than eight men handed the reins on a permanent basis since Roy Keane vacated the hot-seat at the Stadium of Light in December 2008.
Chairman Ellis Short installed Moyes and chief executive Martin Bain during the summer and charged them with the task of creating the stability they have craved in recent years, and it is understood there is no appetite to rip up yet another blueprint barely before the ink is dry.
The pair waded into something of a morass with Allardyce’s departure coming as a surprise just when the Wearside club thought they had finally found a man to build a firm foundation.
Moyes inherited a squad which was unfit for purpose – only a run of three wins, seven draws and just one defeat in the final 11 games of last season had kept them up – and it was to be weakened further before the summer transfer window closed.
While DeAndre Yedlin’s defection to derby rivals Newcastle may not have struck a devastating blow, the unexpected departure of Younes Kaboul for Watford and the club’s failure to push through a permanent deal for key midfielder Yann M’Vila hit hard, although the Rubin Kazan man remains a work in progress.
At the same time, a belated summer recruitment drive saw money spent – in excess of £25million – but to date, only midfielder Didier Ndong, a £13.6million signing from French side Lorient, has impressed.
Moyes has been blighted too by injuries – he was missing Vito Mannone, Lamine Kone, Jan Kirchhoff, Lee Cattermole, Adnan Januzaj, Sebastian Larsson and Fabio Borini at the bet365 Stadium, all of whom could conceivably have been in the starting line-up, and lost Patrick van Aanholt before half-time.
A recognition that repeated sackings have failed to address the underlying issues, a realisation that the playing staff needs to be further strengthened and the fact that for all the current situation is alarming, it is still only October means that the Scot will remain at the helm.
However, his ability to halt a seemingly inexorable slide or otherwise could ultimately determine for how long that remains the case.