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Martin the man for Sunderland job

O'Neill looks to take charge at Wearside

By | 4th December 2011

Sunderland may not be in trophy-winning form this season, but their victory in the always-eventful ‘sack race’ may prove to be a blessing in disguise.

After looking tame and lacking confidence for much of this campaign under Steve Bruce, with a paltry 11 points from 14 matches their return, new club chairman Ellis Short felt the club needed to go in a new direction.

And their decision to act first has given them the pick of the current crop of available managers- indeed, Martin O’Neill looks a perfect fit for Sunderland, who finished top-half just last year and were expected to do the same this season after bringing in a host of new players in the summer.

During his time at Aston Villa, O’Neill thrived in a scenario very similar to the one that presents itself at the Stadium of Light.

A self-proclaimed Sunderland fan in his youth, the former Celtic manager has proven his ability to punch above his weight.

Whilst at Villa Park, O’Neill assembled a strong team that continually challenged the established top four, and had success in the UEFA Cup.

His timing may be a bit off given that Bruce spent much of the available funds this past summer- bringing in Connor Wickham, Ji Dong-Won, John O’Shea, Wes Brown, Craig Gardner, James Vaughan, and Seb Larsson, among others- but his fresh outlook on the team could revitalize the stagnant form they have shown so far this year.

They have won just twice, and have only found the net 16 times in 14 matches, conceding one more than they have scored.

The hallmark of O’Neill’s Villa team, and even his side at Celtic, was their penchant for getting results. That is to say, they beat the teams they were supposed to beat, and often sprang surprises against the top teams by grinding out results.

In 2003, he took Celtic on an unforgettable run to the UEFA Cup Final in Seville, which resulted in a narrow loss, and has appeared in the League Cup final 4 times in his career (winning it twice with Leicester, losing once with the Foxes, and losing with Villa in 2010).

Sunderland have often been seen as something of a sleeping giant, with their cup form disappointing in recent years.

With the likes of Fulham and Stoke succeeding in Europe, a squad with the talent of Sunderland’s could conceivably do well if they found a way into European competition.

Their new manager could well be the man to lead the way, and brighten up the gloom surrounding the Stadium of Light.

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