David O’Leary is the favourite to become the new manager at Sunderland following the sacking of Peter Reid last night.

Reid was sacked after presiding over a poor start to the season which sees Sunderland hovering over the relegation zone. Their record since the beginning of 2002 has been dreadful, collecting just five wins from 27 Premiership matches, and after 7 years in charge, Reid was dismissed.

O’Leary, who was sacked by Leeds United in the summer, sounded enthusiastic about the prospect of taking over at Sunderland.

“I’m gutted for Peter,” O’Leary said last night, “but I’m an out-of-work manager and I’m happy to talk to anyone.”

The appeal for O’Leary is that Sunderland are a big club, capable of drawing huge crowds, and furthermore, he would not have to move from his home in Harrogate, north Yorkshire.

The Sunderland chairman Bob Murray was effusive in his praise of Reid, recognnising his contribution in the club’s rehabilitation in recennt years.

“Sunderland is totally unrecognisable now to when Peter Reid walked through the door at Roker Park in 1995…but the club must always come first. Nearly a quarter of the season has gone and we are at the wrong end of the table and can’t wait any longer for performances to improve

‘Whilst I know that recent months have been difficult, that should not cloud people’s judgment to the many positive things Peter has achieved for this club over many years.

“As far as Peter’s contract is concerned, an automatic financial settlement was included from the outset, which could have been triggered by both parties. This means that there will be no need for negotiations to reach a financial settlement.

“We will be appointing a successor as quickly as possible and hope to have someone in place before our next league game. Most importantly we are looking for someone we believe can improve our league position in the short term and secure our Premier League status.”