Sunderland have started their search to find a new manager after Dick Advocaat decided not to stay at the Stadium of Light.
The 67-year-old Dutchman has opted to go ahead with his plans to retire from club football after guiding the Black Cats to safety.
Advocaat was appointed head coach in mid-March following Gus Poyet’s departure and with the club seemingly heading to the Championship.
After losing his first game in charge, at West Ham, Advocaat then guided Sunderland to victory against Newcastle United, and later to a five-match unbeaten run that included victories over Southampton and Everton.
A goalless draw at Arsenal earlier this month confirmed that Sunderland will be kicking off in the Premier League for a ninth season in a row in August.
However, they will be doing it without Advocaat in charge after he rejected the offer of a two-year deal.
“At certain moments in your life you have to make a decision and I am almost 68 years old now,” he said. “A number of clubs contacted me but the decision was always Sunderland or nobody.
“We gave everything in our time there and achieved what we set out to. Sunderland has been one of the highlights of my career.”
Chairman Ellis Short added: “Although I am extremely disappointed, I understand and absolutely respect his decision.
“In his brief time here he made a real impact and lifted the club with his experience and enthusiasm. We will always be grateful to him for what he achieved.”
Sunderland are 2.25 to be relegated from the Premier League in the 2015/16 season while Newcastle are 5.50 to go down.