Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill is no doubt looking forward to the fun-packed festive season with as much excitement and enthusiasm as a Bernard Matthews turkey! His record at The Stadium Of Light since taking over around this time last year has been nothing short of pitiful. The most recent statistic of two wins from the last twenty three league games will have even the most patient of Premiership gossip mongers eagerly sharpening their cut- throat rhetoric ready to strike whenever the opportunity presents
His chairman Ellis Short has exposed him-self as not only short in name, but equally in measurable brain activity with the recent admission that come January, O’Neill will be given access to the Sunderland transfer kitty, with a remit of digging them out of the ever broadening mire into which they have slowly but surely been enveloped.
O’Neill him-self must seriously be questioning the thought process and judgement that allowed him to relinquish the comforts and challenges of trying to establish Aston Villa as a Champions League top four contender, in favour of the sideways/downward switch to his current employers: especially when a move to Anfield and even the offer of the England job were mooted by many.Statistically, in terms of overall win percentages there is little tangible difference between the record of O’ Neill and that of previous Sunderland managers such as Bruce and Keane.
All three are hovering just below the thirty percent mark: although to be fair to Messrs Keane and Bruce, both had to preside over a greater quantity of fixtures in order to achieve their final win percentage than the current incumbent has thus far.When held under such an analytical microscope, the managerial record of Martin O’ Neill can potentially ask more questions than it is able to provide answers for.
He has long been touted as one of the best managers in the game and his opinion widely respected. But is he really worthy of such praise? Despite bringing a level of consistency to Aston Villa, he never brought what could be described as success, and failed on each occasion in his pursuit of Champions League football. His time at Celtic was characterised by an ever increasing influx of silverware.
However, in a league that is rapidly becoming the footballing equivalent of one of those jokes that you find in a Christmas Cracker, it could be argued that this is not necessarily a great indicator of remarkable achievement! Fans of Leicester City still hold O’Neill in the highest esteem for what he achieved there, and yet clearly he was unable to build on the League Cup successes and mid-table league finishes.
Overall I would suggest that it depends on your angle of observation as to whether you believe O’Neill worthy of the merits and accolades bestowed upon him and ultimately the keys to the kitty. Whether he is riding a wave of reputation or simply treading water in a sea of previous successes is really a matter of opinion. Either way it is of little consequence to Sunderland and their legion of sorry fans at this present time.
The defeat at weekend against a resurgent Chelsea leaves the Black Cats clawing perilously from within the drop zone, and one cant help feel that it will take more than a saucer of milk before they are once again purring to the subtle stroke of victory.