November 26, 2020

O’Neill agrees to take Sunderland job

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Martin O’Neill has agreed to succeed Steve Bruce as Sunderland manager, but he will not take charge of the team for Sunday’s away match against Wolverhampton.

Sunderland have confirmed Bruce’s former assistant manager Eric Black will oversee that game.

The Black cats say they will be making a statement in “due course” on their new manager.

O’Neill has been regularly tipped for vacant posts at high-profile teams in the last 12 months and was the bookmakers’ favourite.

The Black Cats are 16th, two points above the relegation zone, which led to Bruce’s sacking on Wednesday.

The team has won only two of their 13 league games this season.

O’Neill, 59, a former Nottingham Forest player, built his managerial reputation at Wycombe Wanderers before successful spells at Leicester City and Celtic.

He joined Villa in 2006 and led them to three straight sixth-placed finishes in the Premier League and the Carling Cup final before resigning before the start of the 2010-11 season.

He is understood to have met Sunderland’s owner and chairman Ellis Short on Thursday evening in London to negotiate a deal.

One of the key aspects of the agreement is said to be O’Neill’s agreement to the budgetary constraints at the Stadium of Light.

In the meantime, Black will lead the team against Wolves, who are level on points with Sunderland.

Black said on Friday he was focusing on the match. “Naturally it is a difficult time for everyone at the club, but we have to be professional get on with the job in hand,” he said.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon, who worked under his fellow Northern Irishman at Leicester and Celtic, would welcome O’Neill’s return to management.

Lennon said: “If he gets the job, it would be brilliant to see him back in the game.

“He has a penchant for lifting clubs. Sunderland is a huge club and I know that, as a boy growing up, it was his favourite team, so there might be an emotional tie there for him.

“But I think he is just ready to get back into the game. If he is offered the job, whether he takes it or not, I hope that we will see him back in the Premier League sooner rather than later.”

Under fire Chelsea boss Andres Villa Boas takes his team to high flying Newcastle on Saturday knowing another defeat would pile on even more pressure.

League leaders Manchester City host Norwich while Blackburn face Swansea. QPR take on West Brom while Bolton and Arsenal travel to Tottenham and Wigan respectively.

In the late kick-off Aston Villa play Manchester United, Everton face Stoke on Sunday while Liverpool travel to Fulham for the Monday night game.

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