Friday, 2 December 2011

Sunderland appointment ends questions over O'Neill future

Foxes legend: Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill's agreement this morning to be named as new manager of Sunderland ends speculation surrounding the future of the former Leicester City, Celtic and Aston Villa boss.

The Ulsterman was, for a long time, favourite to succeed Sven Goran Eriksson in the hot seat at the King Power Stadium, to the extent that a number of bookies stopped taking bets on his future. His failure to deny any approach from the Foxes served only to confirm his interest. In the light of his unveiling as the new manager at the Stadium of Light, however, that crucial piece of speculation sits in a whole new light.

O'Neill has been named as the Black Cats' new boss within just three days of Steve Bruce's departure, with the obvious conclusion being that O'Neill had been approached by the Teesiders before Bruce had lost his job. The fact that O'Neill was so quiet on a return to Leicester suggests that he may have seen interest from Sunderland as long as a month ago and, with the door a Premier League club ajar - his boyhood club, no less - he was willing to bide his time and take the chance on Bruce leaving the Stadium of Light rather than make a hasty return to the East Midlands. The rest, for Foxes' fans at least, is history. Nigel Pearson was re-appointed for his second tenure at Leicester City and he has seen the club reach the play-off places for the first time since his initial departure eighteen months ago. 

The appointment of O'Neill to Sunderland leaves lots of pending questions for Tottenham Hotspur, England and Manchester United - all of whom are supposed suitors to the Ulsterman's services. For Leicester City meanwhile, this could be a blessing in disguise: in going for their second-choice man in Pearson, it looks like they may have got the best man for the job.
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