While the Cutter always tries to avoid peddling rumours of management sackings we’ll happily make an exception for the clueless gargoyle Steve Bruce. Especially when it appears that fresh whispers of his imminent departure from the Stadium of Light have a fair degree of substance to them.

Following a multitude of summer signings Sunderland has got off to a nightmare start to this campaign – exacerbated by the bizarre self-enforced exit of their best striker Asamoah Gyan to the United Arab Emirates – and a meagre six points from their opening seven games has left Bruce’s position precarious even at this early stage. With Niall Quinn’s decision to step down as chairman – a big ally of Bruce’s – the ex-Manchester United stopper now looks exposed and lacking support in the boardroom.

It is understood that Sunderland made an approach to Martin O’Neill three weeks ago to sound out his interest in replacing the beleagured boss. O’Neill, to his credit, refused to consider the offer of a position still held by a fellow manager.

Now however US owner Ellis Short – who has pumped £100m into the Wearside club with little reward on the pitch – is willing to dispense with Bruce’s services and make a fresh bid for his ideal man for the role.