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 have endured a disappointing season so far with just two wins in eleven leaving them hovering dangerously above the relegation zone. Though Bruce has encountered some rotten misfortune – the bizarre self-enforced exit of their best striker Asamoah Gyan to the United Arab Emirates followed now by a long-term lay-off for exciting prospect Conor Wickham – there has undeniably been an overall regression made from last term which is worrying those upstairs. With Niall Quinn’s decision to step down as chairman – a big ally of Bruce’s – the ex-Manchester United stopper now looks increasingly isolated and lacking support in the boardroom.

It is understood that Sunderland made an approach to Martin O’Neill six 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 or another in time for the January transfer window.