Dick Advocaat has moved to clarify the uncertainty over his future by insisting he has no intention of quitting Sunderland.
Advocaat has been the favourite with the bookmakers to become the first Premier League manager to leave his position this season after a stream of speculation that the 67-year-old could have second thoughts over his return to Sunderland in the summer.
However, Advocaat was a far more upbeat figure at his pre-match press conference after the signing of Swedish international Ola Toivonen has eased his frustration over the need for further recruits.
And Advocaat - who remains on excellent terms with both chairman Ellis Short and sporting director Lee Congerton - addressed the idea that he could leave the Stadium of Light after the transfer deadline.
“With all respect, I have never said that I would leave,” he said.
“Maybe sometimes my face wasn’t always happy, but there was a reason for that.
“But I have never said that I would quit this club because there is no reason to.
“We have really, really great people here at the moment. Everybody on the staff knows what to do.
“I speak regularly with the president and I fully understand his concerns from the past.”
Sunderland will attempt to secure their first Premier League victory of the campaign against Aston Villa this weekend, before the two-week international break.
But Advocaat has been encouraged by Sunderland’s last two games, despite their defensive problems, and is eager for a positive result against a team likely to be scrapping alongside the Black Cats in the bottom half of the table at the end of the season.
Advocaat added: “They (Villa) have invested a lot of money, but they also brought a lot of money in by selling (Christian) Benteke etc.
“It is important for both teams to stay together, rather than having a gap.
“But I think the way the last two games have gone, we have showed we can score goals.
“Yes, we have to improve defensively.
“But the work-rate and passion against Swansea was positive.
“We know we have to improve again, but we will do. We can only become a better team.”