Just as quickly as the axe fell on Steve Bruce, the management of Sunderland have taken decisive action, and made the move to bring on board an excellent new manager, who shares the fervour of the supporters in this most passionate of football areas. The Black Cats are a well run club with great support, excellent facilities and fantastic potential.
Martin O’Neill grew up in Northern Ireland, idolising a true giant of the game, Charlie Hurley, who played for Sunderland for 13 years at Roker Park, and also captained Ireland. And I remember O’Neill when he played for Nottingham Forest under Brian Clough as a talented and influential scoring midfielder. He won the European Cup twice in 1979 and 1980, and is one of those few talented players that became a top manager, having been influenced strongly by Forest manager and Black Cats legend Brian Clough.
I was planning to write an in-depth blog about all the different candidates for the Sunderland job, but even as I was composing it, things suddenly became very clear around who was going to get the job. O’Neill has a great record as a manager.
I followed what the guy achieved at Leicester, who actually won something under him. The Celtic period was great, the league titles, and I heard the interview with Sunderland legend Mickey Gray, who described O’Neill as “passionate, articulate and tactically aware”. Villa fans may feel that he was not their best manager, four years with just one trophy, but the average league placings were good.
So what will this appointment do for Sunderland in the near future? The players will be under Bruce's assistant Eric Black for this game. But O’Neill will be at the game, and the team will be galvanized, looking to make an impression.
What are the odds for Peter Reid coming in as coach, a job the Liverpudlian had at Stoke less than 2 years ago? Niall Quinn would not stand in his way...you read it here first...
©Lars J.S. Knutsen