Mick McCarthy's appointment as Sunderland's new boss marks his first stint as a Premiership manager after spells at First Division Millwall and the Republic of Ireland.
McCarthy's Ireland won 29 out of 68 matches
The 44-year-old Yorkshireman faces nine make-or-break matches in which to keep the club in the top flight.
McCarthy has been out of management since his decision to quit the Republic of Ireland post last November in the wake of the Roy Keane affair and a poor start to the 2004 European Championship campaign.
Until that point, McCarthy's stock was high after emerging from the shadows of the former Republic boss Jack Charlton and guiding the side to the World Cup finals in 2002.
McCarthy's preparations in Japan and South Korea were hampered by the early loss of Keane after a much-publicised spat.
But McCarthy, the former Republic captain, displayed fighting qualities and impressive motivational talents to guide the team to the last 16 where they lost on penalties to Spain.
Mick McCarthy's story so far
1959: Born Barnsley, 7 February
1977: Makes league debut for Barnsley, later moving to Man City, Celtic, Lyon and Millwall
1984: Makes debut for Republic of Ireland
1991: Named as Millwall's player-manager
Feb 1996: After impressive stint at Millwall, appointed successor to Jack Charlton as Ireland manager
Nov 2002: Quits as Ireland boss in the same year as a row with Roy Keane overshadows the World Cup campaign
March 2003: Appointed Sunderland manager
Before the World Cup, though, the former Barnsley, Manchester City, Celtic and Millwall defender was in danger of going down as a nearly man.
Under McCarthy, the Republic nearly qualified for the 1998 World Cup in France but lost in a play-off to Belgium.
They also nearly qualified for Euro 2000, again failing in a play-off against Turkey, this time on an away goal.
It seemed the luck of the Irish had not rubbed off on Barnsley-born McCarthy.
As Jack Charlton's "Captain Fantastic", McCarthy earned 57 caps for Ireland.
He was appointed manager early in 1996, faced with the challenge of trying to follow the successful Charlton.
McCarthy did not enjoy a good start, losing five and drawing the other in his first six matches in charge.
But he was given time and they qualified for the 2002 World Cup finals ahead of the mighty Holland.
Before the Ireland job, McCarthy's only other taste of management was with Millwall, where he took over as player-manager from Bruce Rioch in 1991.
In the 1992-93 season, Millwall finished seventh, one position below the play-off places.
The following year the London club finished third but missed out on promotion.
But a lacklustre season in 1995 was followed by the ignominy of relegation a year later, with McCarthy departing in February to take over from Charlton in Ireland.
After an up-and-down six years, McCarthy's final record in charge of the Republic was played 68, won 29, drew 20, lost 19.
His demise was hastened by stinging criticism from the influential Keane and defeats to Russia and Switzerland in Euro 2004 qualifiers.
Despite being strongly fancied, he missed out on the Sunderland job when Peter Reid was sacked in October 2002.
But with the failure of the Howard Wilkinson experiment, McCarthy leaves behind the comfort of the television pundit's couch and reenters the everyday cut-and-thrust of club management for the first time in seven years.
He faces the prospect of becoming either a miracle worker or a First Division boss striving to get back to the big time.