DICK ADVOCAAT, the former Rangers manager and forever the Little General, is about to be asked a seriously big favour.

Sunderland, who on Monday morning dispensed with the services of Gus Poyet as their manager, want the Dutchman to save their Premier League status and all that comes with it.

Advocaat, a spiky and entertaining character who remains admired and even loved by some of the Rangers support, is not the only name on the list drawn up by the Wearside club, but he is way out in front of the other contenders. It is his job to say yes or no to.

Sunderland are one point and one place above the relegation zone with nine league matches remaining. They desperately require a saviour. They need, as someone inside the club was heard to say, "a guy to do us a big favour". They hope that guy is the Dutchman who made such a memorable impact on Scottish football.

Advocaat is now 67-years-old and after a coaching career that has landed him 20 positions - eleven of them came after he left Ibrox in 2002 - should he not be lying back and smelling the tulips?

Sunderland sporting director Lee Congerton knows Advocaat through Frank Arnesen, the former Danish international and a man who has been sporting director of many clubs, who Congerton worked under at Chelsea and SV Hamburg as a coach.

Sunderland's owner Ellis Short hopes this relationship can get him out of a hole. The American is rich, but even billionaires can't afford to miss out on the new Premier League television deal that comes into being in 2016.

But if Advocaat does fancy one more crack at the club game, why Sunderland and more pertinently, why now when they are such a mess?

All he will be offered is a deal until the end of this season. Even if he keeps them up there is no indication he would be offered anything else other than a hearty handshake.

Although as Advocaat is known for never selling himself short when it comes to his own wage, this could be the biggest salary for any manager to take charge of a club for less than quarter of a season.

His task would be formidable since Sunderland are a really poor football team. They lost four goals at home in the first half to Aston Villa last Saturday. Poyet and his staff must take some of the blame, but the fact of the matter is that few of their players look even close to being of Barclays Premier League standard and it's been that way for just about all of this campaign.

So again the question must be asked: what's in it for Dick?

He has won titles in the Netherlands, Scotland and Russia, and has had long spells in international football enjoying good and bad times. His last job, a short-held stint as Serbia manager, seemed to be just that, his last job in football.

Advocaat has done just about everything there is to do, however, he has never gone into a club at the final hour when all seemed lost to save them from relegation. That wouldn't be a bad way to sign off, especially if it earned him one more contract.

Since those days at Ibrox where he won many trophies and spent £12m on Tore Andre Flo (those really were crazy times), his three-year stay at Zenit St Petersburg, which included a 2008 UEFA Cup win over Rangers, has been the longest he's hung around one place. So a two-month deal at a Premier League club might just suit him.

But do they want Advocaaat in the North East?

The good thing about him in the eyes of all Sunderland supporters is that he's not Poyet. Or Paolo Di Canio who replaced Martin O'Neill two years ago in almost identical circumstances.

Also, would it be so mischievous to suggest Advocaat would rather enjoy being a success at a club that sacked his old Celtic nemesis?

It might just work. Advocaat may now be of pensionable age, but his strict, disciplined, no-nonsense approach could actually be what they need. As long as the players "work their sock off" as he once memorably said.

If he does say yes then football is going to be a jollier place with him back in the game.

Advocaat was always good value when dealing with the media. He could be charming and gruff within the same sentence and is a fiercely intelligent and genuinely funny man.

And if he did somehow keep Sunderland Association Football Club in the Premier League, it would give Rangers fans who remember the good days under him something to cheer.