Published Wednesday, 03 April 2013
Martin O'Neill and Declan Kidney were both relieved of their duties as Sunderland manager and as Head Coach of Ireland Rugby following a string of disappointing results for each.
While commentators have questioned the decision to give O'Neill the sack there was little surprise when it was confirmed Kidney would not have his contract renewed by the IRFU. Granted it had been common knowledge throughout Ireland's disastrous Six Nations campaign that the former Munster coach would likely be let go and a change of management would be to Ireland's benefit but what I don't understand is why the reaction is so different for O'Neill?
Martin O'Neill, just like Kidney, can command respect for past achievements but when it comes down to it results simply haven't been good enough. Sunderland have won just twice in 2013, a run that has seen them dragged into the relegation dog fight.
In truth, the Black Cats have struggled all season and have scored just 33 goals - the fifth worst return in the league. At the start of the season I said in a previous blog that I wouldn't be surprised if Sunderland had a nightmare season or by the end they were jumping for joy and I can honestly say I am not in the least bit surprised they are in their current predicament.
Former Celtic manager O'Neill is renowned for being a great motivator but he is also known for liking a bit of money to spend in the transfer window. O'Neill spent nearly £30million on Steven Fletcher, Adam Johnson (signed in the summer transfer window) and Danny Graham (signed from Swansea in the January transfer window). Fletcher performed well in the first half of the campaign but was quiet for the past few months before injury put an end to his season. As for Adam Johnson he is inconsistent at best and is Danny Graham really going to get more goals than Fraizer Campbell who was allowed to leave for Cardiff City? Managers are judged on results and signings and neither have come off for Martin O'Neill this term.
I am not saying that O'Neill deserved the sack and I don't think that Di Canio is an improvement but what I am saying is that given the revolving door that is Premier League management nobody should be surprised. Sunderland are hovering above the relegation zone because they have been poor all season and unfortunately for Martin O'Neill it is easier and cheaper to get rid of the manager than it is to give the entire first team squad the boot.
I agree with Jim Gracey's views in a recent interview with UTV in that we will see Martin appearing as a pundit before we see him in a dugout and I think O'Neill is suited perfectly for that role with his in depth knowledge and natural enthusiasm.
Sunderland will be lucky to avoid relegation this season with Wigan and Aston Villa picking up some results and the Sunderland board may come to regret their decision but they had to act in order to at least try to turn fortunes around.
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