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Monday, 7 October, 2002, 22:45 GMT 23:45 UK
Sunderland's search
Peter Reid ran out of time at Sunderland
Peter Reid ran out of time at Sunderland
BBC Sport Online's Phil McNulty

Peter Reid's Sunderland career suffered a slow death - now the search begins for a manager to illuminate The Stadium of Light amid the current gloom.

Reid's familiarity at a club where he held power for seven years eventually bred a contempt that surfaced in the shape of mass criticism from the natives.

He had occupied the most precarious of managerial positions for the last 12 months - one match away from a crisis, one defeat away from another show of supporters' dissent.

Reid's role at Sunderland, taken over his entire reign, had been to revive a club heading down the divisions and playing at the ramshackle and rundown Roker Park.

He leaves a club barely recognisable from those dark days, with a magnificent home at The Stadium of Light and ambitions of Premiership grandeur.

But Reid - a classic example of what you see is what you get when it comes to personality - finally had to go because his time had run its course.

Sunderland's players were not responding either to the arm around the shoulder or the kick up the backside, and the supporters has simply grown tired of Reid.

All the ingredients make up the recipe for a sacking and Reid's departure became inevitable.

George Graham has the pedigree
George Graham has the pedigree

But it will be one of the great injustices if Sunderland history treats Reid unkindly.

So much good work came before the unfulfilling finale to his reign.

Now chairman Bob Murray, so long Reid's close friend and fiercest supporter, must look for the man to take Sunderland on to the next level.

And he will look for a manager with the character and experience to carry the huge expectations of a massive support - and a man able to ignore the pressure from the presence of neighbours Newcastle United just over his shoulder.

Former Leeds United boss David O'Leary has already hinted he will be happy to talk to Sunderland, and he will surely be the early front runner.

He has Premiership experience, has handled huge pressure and even bigger players at Leeds - and is burning with ambition after his shock Elland Road sacking.

Poisoned

George Graham has also been mentioned, but it takes a leap of the imagination to see him leaving his beloved London behind and taking the trek to the North East.

Graham's vague claim that he will "speak to any club whose ambition matches my own" is hardly an invitation to an open arms embrace with Sunderland.

But it is not a job for a managerial novice and Graham's vast experience has its attractions.

He may not, however, satisfy the Sunderland supporters who yearn for a piece of the free-flowing action they see down the road at Newcastle.

Sunderland chairman Murray may well know the man he wants, sacking Reid conveniently during an international break.

Now it is up to that man to decide whether he wants to sip from what became a poisoned chalice for Peter Reid.

 VOTE RESULTS
Who should replace the sacked Peter Reid?

George Graham
 14.68% 

David O'Leary
 59.40% 

Niall Quinn
 25.92% 

22193 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion
Peter Reid leaves Sunderland after over seven years in charge

Race to take over

Reid pays price

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