As I was watching Sunderland struggle against Manchester Utd yesterday (March 30th, 2013), I thought Martin O’Neil is a lucky man, yes his side are struggling, but he knows what he is doing and there isn’t a chairman in the land that would fire him.
And then several hours later, the axe fell and for the first time in his 26-year managerial career the sixty year-old manager was fired and out of a job.
For a man who was once short listed for the England job and thought to be in the running to take over at Manchester Utd (when Alex Ferguson retires) something has gone horribly wrong and the days of glory seem to have deserted him.
Seemingly, gone are the days where we used to witness O’Neil bouncing around on the touchline as he shared every minute of the game with his team. Gone are the days where his positive words of encouragement and excellent tactical knowledge got the best from his players. Gone are the days where he was considered one of the best managers in the country. Gone are the days when he had the ability to energize an entire club, and gone are the days when firing O’Neil would seem like the craziest idea in the world.
The writing was on the wall earlier in the season. Since the end of last season (2012) and into the start of the present one the Black Cats experienced an eleven match winless streak. The team picked up temporarily over the Christmas period, but their current run, no wins in eight games, has seen them fall to sixteenth and now the distinct possibility of relegation now looms, but that is somebody else’s problem now.
For O’Neil, once described as football’s equivalent of the Duracell bunny, lets hope the blip on his impressive record is a temporary one, for he is too good to experience a permanent fall from grace.