Two-and-half months without a win and meant Saturday’s inept performance cost Martin O’Neill his job. Just over one year after the former Leicester City, Celtic, and Aston Villa man replaced Steve Bruce at the Stadium of Light, the Northern Irishman is out, the club having relieved him of his responsibilities on Saturday night.
The announcement was made via the club’s website:
The club has parted company with manager Martin O’Neill.
Sunderland AFC has announced that it has parted company with manager Martin O’Neill this evening.
The club would like to place on record its thanks to Martin and wishes him well for the future.
An announcement will be made in the coming days regarding a successor.
The Black Cats hadn’t won a game since their 3-2 victory at Wigan on Jan. 19. In the eight matches that’ve followed, Sunderland collected five goals and three points while falling to 16th in the Premier League.
With 31 points, O’Neill team was only one point above the drop. Their 33 goals scored ranked 16th in the league, while only two teams (Queens Park Rangers, Reading) had won fewer games.
For a club with Sunderland’s resources, it’s an indefensible position to be in, especially consider O’Neill was given the power to reshape the team as he wished. The result was one of the most pedestrian brands of soccer in the league – a squad that played like a caricature of pre-Premier League-era soccer. Conservative, cynical, and consistently disappointing, O’Neill’s product gave his employers no recourse.
His project wasn’t designed with long-term goals. The short-term results weren’t improving. The team wasn’t subject to any particular bad luck, and the manager wasn’t lacking for resources. There was no reason to keep O’Neill after a reputation-redefining spell.
With their Premier League survival at stake, Sunderland had to make a move. Even if they can’t find somebody with O’Neill’s CV, change for change’s sake is justified.