Sunderland have appointed Sam Allardyce as their new manager to replace Dick Advocaat.
The former West Ham and Newcastle United boss has been handed a two-year contract at the Stadium of Light.
“I have enjoyed my break from football and now I’m raring to get back,” Allardyce said in a statement on the club’s website.
“I met with (chairman) Ellis (Short) and we spoke at length about the club and his ambitions and I knew I wanted to be part of that.
“I hope to be able to help to bring the stability and success that everyone wants.
“Of course it’s a challenging job, but it’s something I have experience of in the past. I’m looking forward to working with the players and of course I will be relying on the help of the Sunderland supporters, whose tremendous passion I have experienced first-hand. I can’t wait to get started.”
Advocaat, who had impressively kept Sunderland up last season, announced his decision to leave the club following their 2-2 home draw with West Ham on October 3.
Sunderland are 19th in the Premier League, having picked up just three points from their opening eight matches, while they were knocked out of the League Cup by Manchester City.
Short described Allardyce as the “obvious best choice for the job” and hit out at media criticism of the club’s recruitment process, which followed news sporting director Lee Congerton was seeking to leave the Stadium of Light soon after Advocaat’s departure.
“I am very pleased to welcome Sam to our football club,” Short said.
“Sunderland is a club he knows well and he was the obvious best choice for the job. He has vast experience of managing in the Premier League and an understanding first-hand of the north east and the passion of our fans, which will stand him in great stead.
“I would like to assure our fans that once Dick made us aware of his intention to leave, Lee Congerton oversaw an organised and structured recruitment
process, that bore very little resemblance to what has been described in the media.
“For example, this was a very popular job, proactively sought after by a large number of managers – contrary to much of what has been portrayed. The process was made easier by the fact that Sam was such an obvious choice.
“The other misconception is that Sam had to be persuaded to join us; nothing could be further from the truth. From the very beginning, he understood the importance of this job and showed great enthusiasm for the role and a desire to be part of moving this club forward.”
Allardyce left West Ham by mutual consent in the close-season after four largely successful years at Upton Park. While many fans never quite warmed to his style of play, he led them to promotion in his first season before finishes of 10th, 13th and 12th in the top flight.
The 60-year-old played for Sunderland over one season between 1980 and 1981, while he previously managed the club’s fierce rivals Newcastle, lasting only 18 months in the role after proving largely unpopular with supporters at St James’ Park.
Allardyce has also managed Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League.
His first match in the new role will be the away game against West Brom on October 17, before a big derby against fellow strugglers Newcastle the following week.