Dick Advocaat has insisted he would walk away from Sunderland if he did not feel he was the right man for the job – but he has no intention of doing so.
The 67-year-old Dutchman will head into Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup third round clash with Manchester City at the Stadium of Light having seen his side fail to win any of their opening six Barclays Premier League games of the season to sit at the foot of the table.
Asked if he had any regrets about deciding to shelve his retirement plans during the summer, he replied: “No, no regrets.
“Listen, let’s be clear: if I feel that it is better that somebody else takes over, I’m the first man who will say, ‘It’s better for the club, I will go’, believe me.”
However, asked further how close he might be to calling it a day on Wearside, he replied: “Very far, because we did not have a pre-season with the players and now we can see that they are coming a little bit to the level (required). But you still have to gel the combination with players, etc, etc.
“We will try tomorrow a little bit differently, and I’d like to see what they do. But I still have a good feeling about this squad and if we have 40 points, I think we have enough.”
The Black Cats thought they had turned something of a corner against Tottenham last Sunday when they produced a much-improved display in a 1-0 home defeat, but they surrendered that feel-good factor inside nine disastrous minutes at Bournemouth on Saturday as they allowed the Cherries to secure a decisive early lead.
They will attempt to steady the ship against the Premier League leaders, who beat them in the League Cup final at Wembley in March 2014, with Advocaat keen to further annoy opposite number Manuel Pellegrini.
He led Russian side Zenit St Petersburg to an aggregate victory over Pellegrini’s Villarreal in February 2008 on the way to UEFA Cup glory, and the Chilean was not happy about it.
Advocaat said with a smile: “When I was the manager of Zenit, we played against Villarreal and I kicked him out of the UEFA Cup, and he was very angry because he did not expect that.
“He’s a very, very nice man.”
Sunderland will be without the suspended Younes Kaboul following his sending-off at Bournemouth, but skipper John O’Shea is available after recovering from illness.