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Last Updated:  Monday, 10 March, 2003, 23:30 GMT
Stadium of Light contenders
Mick McCarthy
McCarthy is favourite to take over
Sunderland's decision to fire Howard Wilkinson and Steve Cotterill begins a new round of speculation about who will take over at the Stadium of Light.

Former Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy was a strong favourite when Peter Reid was sacked and is still unemployed, while David O'Leary has been out of work since parting company with Leeds in June.

Former Ipswich boss George Burley is another possible candidate.

BBC Sport profiles the three leading contenders:


Mick McCarthy

McCarthy has been out of work since quitting the Republic of Ireland job in November.

He has been biding his time before plunging back into club management and has concentrated instead on his work as a television pundit.

After a quiet stint in charge at Millwall, McCarthy made his name by taking the Republic to the second round of the World Cup finals last summer.

He succeeded in emerging from the shadow of the talismanic former boss Jack Charlton, but his image was tarnished by the fall-out from the Roy Keane affair.


David O'Leary

David O'Leary
O'Leary left Leeds in June

The former Leeds boss built a reputation as an inspirational manager by guiding his young side to the semi-finals of the Champions League in May 2001.

But his liberal use of the chequebook banked on continuing European success.

Instead, Leeds began to stutter and off-the-field problems added to the pressure - Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate were both involved in a high-profile court case.

O'Leary left the club in June after four years in charge following a stint as George Graham's assistant.

But Leeds' struggles have continued with fans incensed by the sales of stars such as Bowyer, Fowler and Woodgate to help balance the books.


George Burley
George Burley
Burley's Ipswich were relegated

Burley was an Ipswich player under Bobby Robson before returning the Suffolk club to the top flight as manager in 2000.

Success came quickly as Ipswich qualified for Europe in their first season in the Premiership.

But relegation followed and a poor start to this season led to Burley being replaced by Joe Royle.




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Former Sunderland player George Burley
"99% of managers would want the job"


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