London - Sam Allardyce was hired as the new manager of Premier League strugglers Sunderland on a two-year contract on Friday.
Allardyce, who spent a season as a Sunderland defender in the 1980s, takes over from Dick Advocaat, who resigned last weekend after a draw against West Ham left his side second bottom of the top-flight table.
The 60-year-old will be returning to the north-east after previously managing his new club's bitter rivals Newcastle.
Allardyce had taken a break from football after leaving West Ham at the end of last season, but he has been persuaded to return to management at the Stadium of Light despite Sunderland's woeful form this season.
"I am very pleased to welcome Sam to our football club," Sunderland owner Ellis Short told the club's website.
"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."