Sunderland show O’Neill the door as relegation threatens

Reuters, London

Mon, Apr 01, 2013 - Page 20

Sunderland pushed the panic button and sacked manager Martin O’Neill on Saturday after a 1-0 Premier League defeat at home to Manchester United left them facing the prospect of relegation.

Without a win in eight games, Sunderland have plummeted down the table to 16th place, having played a game more than Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa, their two main relegation rivals.

“Sunderland AFC has announced that it has parted company with manager Martin O’Neill this evening,” the northeast club said on their Web site. “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.”

With only seven games of their league campaign remaining, Sunderland have little time to waste in finding a replacement.

“An announcement will be made in the coming days regarding a successor,” the club statement said.

Former England manager Steve McClaren was installed as the early favorite, with ex-Swindon Town boss Paolo Di Canio and former Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo also in the running.

O’Neill’s fate was sealed by the home defeat to runaway league leaders Manchester United, with a Titus Bramble own-goal in the first half handing the visitors a seventh successive league victory.

O’Neill began his coaching career in semi-professional soccer in 1990 with Wycombe Wanderers, before joining Leicester City in 1995, with whom he won promotion to the Premier League and two League Cup triumphs.

He moved to Celtic in 2000, winning a Scottish domestic treble in his first season before lifting two more league titles and two more Scottish Cups and reaching the 2003 UEFA Cup final.

He spent four years at Aston Villa from 2006 before joining Sunderland in 2011.