Reports are mounting that Barnsley could be looking for their sixth permanent manager in seven years with Sunderland set to offer a very strong financial package to Paul Heckingbottom.
The Barnsley born 40 year old who also made 53 playing appearances for the Reds between 2006 and 2008 has caught the eye of the beleaguered North East outfit due to his ability to build an attractive and young team on a shoestring budget.
Heckingbottom who has won 36 and lost 30 of his 89 games in charge since taking over (initially as caretaker) from Lee Johnson in February last year has had to rebuild virtually the entire squad during his 19 months at the helm and only four players from the play-off final squad from May 2016 remain at Oakwell - and one of those, Lloyd Isgrove has only just returned after 12 months at Southampton.
Despite losing key players in January such as Sam Winnall, Conor Hourihane and James Bree, "Hecky" was still able to lead Barnsley to their highest league finish since 2000 in May and has again made a credible start to 2017-2018, collecting 19 points from 15 games.
Three of those points came in a 3-0 Oakwell victory over Sunderland in August and now it has been heavily reported that the Black Cats who have won only once since relegation from the Premier League to sit rock bottom are prepared to offer around £750,000 per year plus bonuses to Hecky to replace Simon Grayson who was sacked on the 3rd November after less than five months in charge.
It remains to be seen whether Heckingbottom could be tempted to leave what he has described as his "dream job" and "not just a job" but sources in the North East believe the deal could be done before this weekend's matches when Barnsley travel to Norwich and Sunderland host Millwall looking for their first victory at the Stadium of Light since December 2016.