While Sunderland are deep in final negotiations with O’Neill, and the Northern Irishman having said that he will accept the job as manager of the Black Cats, the news should come as welcome relief not only for Sunderland supporters but also for fans of English football.
O’Neill resigned from Aston Villa in August, 2010. While those in the United Kingdom have been able to see him appear as a pundit on different football shows, the rest of the world (myself included) haven’t seen a glimpse of him since then. It’s been a long 15 months. Martin O’Neill, I’ve missed you.
I’ve missed him for several reasons. First, Aston Villa was a powerhouse when he was in charge of them. Yes, they often promised a lot, but slipped up near the end of the season, but at least they were a force to be reckoned with. Plus, they were often a joy to watch as opposed to the rough and tackling Aston Villa side led by manager Alex McLeish.
Second, O’Neill was always refreshingly honest. He spoke his mind. And that candor was wonderful to hear especially during post-match interviews.
Third, and finally, I believe O’Neill still has plenty to give to this game of football. He achieved success with Leicester City and Celtic. He narrowly missed out on a Carling Cup triumph over Manchester United, but nevertheless, left Aston Villa in a much better state than when he joined the club. With Sunderland, he has an incredible opportunity to get the club on a stronger footing and then push forward for a place in Europe. Much like Lerner in the early days of Villa, O’Neill will have funds available from Ellis Short to make sound purchases while offloading some of the Sunderland players who are surplus to requirements.
If anyone can turn Sunderland around, Martin O’Neill is the man for the job.
I’m sincerely looking forward to O’Neill’s return to management. He’s been out of the game for too long, but hopefully the past 15 months have given him plenty of time to recharge his batteries and to prepare for his next conquest. He has a lot of hard work ahead of him, but I’m confident he can get the job done.