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Sunderland axe Martin O"Neill after dismal run leaves them one point above the drop zone

Sunderland axe O'Neill after dismal run leaves them one point above the drop zone

PUBLISHED:

21:40 GMT, 30 March 2013

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UPDATED:

21:47 GMT, 30 March 2013

Martin O'Neill parted company with Sunderland after the Black Cats slipped deeper into relegation trouble.

The 61-year-old's departure was confirmed hours after Saturday's 1-0 home defeat by Manchester United, which left the club sitting just a point clear of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone with seven games left to play.

A club statement said: 'Sunderland AFC has announced that it has parted company with manager Martin O'Neill this evening.

Time's up: Sunderland have axed Martin O'Neill

Time's up: Sunderland have axed Martin O'Neill

'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..

More to follow

Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard have unfinished business on football"s biggest stage, says Roy Hodgson

Rooney and Gerrard have unfinished business on football's biggest stage, says Hodgson

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UPDATED:

21:58 GMT, 1 December 2012

Copacabana's famous beach was deserted and the Sugarloaf Mountain was hidden by cloud as Roy Hodgson sheltered in a waterfront hotel from the heavy shower soaking this city last week. For a moment, the soon-to-be capital of the sporting universe resembled a Spring Bank Holiday at any seaside resort in Britain.

'It's raining cats and dogs, no' said Hodgson's Brazilian guide, and the England manager chuckled at the young man's grasp of idiosyncratic English. Hodgson has made friends easily in a country where football is the communal language, yet he is still surprised to be stopped by people wanting to have their photograph taken with him. 'I wouldn't have expected to be recognised in the street,' he said. 'But even England's friendly matches are televised here. And it has to do with the popularity of our Premier League, too.'

Roy Hodgson during the workshop: Secrets of the Dugout: The Manager's Perspective

Hot seat: Roy Hodgson during the workshop: Secrets of the Dugout: The Manager's Perspective

In 19 months' time, Hodgson hopes England's stars from the Premier League will be here with him when Brazil host the World Cup, an unmissable carnival of football before the Olympic circus rolls into town in 2016.

'There will be a lot of very disappointed people in England if we don't qualify for the World Cup,' said Hodgson. 'I'd be devastated. When you get the England job, you dream of the tournaments; the qualifiers and friendlies are only a means to an end.

'When the people on the selection committee sat me down six months ago and said that they wanted me to do the job, you automatically think of the European Championship, in Poland and Ukraine, and the World Cup in Brazil.'

Hodgson's suitability as England manager – when the country was clamouring for Harry Redknapp to be appointed in succession to Fabio Capello – is evident during the hour he spent on stage here in Rio at the Soccerex football convention. Hodgson chatted, through an interpreter, with Zico, one of Brazil's greatest players, and England's manager was erudite, informed and informative.

Afterwards his passion for managing England, while perhaps not always obvious from his often deadpan demeanour at media conferences or in the dugout, was all too clear. But he knows from his six months in the job that managing England carries a heavy responsibility to the nation. 'Every game has an enormous expectation,' he said. And he believes that it is an expectation that the players, despite being derided at times for being so wealthy that success on the international stage is only of passing interest to them, really do embrace.

'It's important to dispel the myth that the players don't care,' he said. 'I could have been tempted, especially after the criticism that followed some major tournaments, to believe that the players didn't care that much about England and that their thoughts were elsewhere. But it was really pleasant to find that nothing could be further from the truth. I know I cause disappointment when I leave anyone out of a friendly as I take the opportunity to look at other players.

Roy Hodgson during the workshop: Secrets of the Dugout: The Manager's Perspective

The Wayne Rooneys, Steven Gerrards, Ashley Coles and Jermain Defoes, all senior internationals, care desperately. 'Wayne's a great player, a player who decides games. Yet he would be the first to admit that he has unfinished business for England at a major championship.

'Steven Gerrard comes into that category, too. He will be very important, because of his playing ability, because of his tournament experience, which he can pass on to younger players, and because of his captaincy qualities. He is a captain who cares, one willing to spend time with other players, and he is not part of any clique. He transcends, to some extent, all of that.

'In his best moments, he has world-class ability, which he has shown for the national team on many occasions. With 19 months to go before the World Cup, we have to hope he can keep fit and retain his great athleticism. If so, it's going to be fantastic to have him with us. He would be 34 but that's not a great age for a footballer any more and Liverpool are managing him well.'

Gerrard's experience, clearly, would benefit the younger men Hodgson is looking to groom, players such as Jack Wilshere, Tom Cleverley and Chris Smalling.

'Chris broke into the Fulham team when I was there,' said Hodgson. 'He played only a handful of games at the top level before Alex [Ferguson] made the club what they thought was a fantastic offer for him [reportedly 8million]. That's going to turn out very cheap.'

At 65, Hodgson understands that football is a capricious mistress. He also knows that while he has the cushion of a strong contract with the FA, the actual longevity of his own tenure depends on shaping and creating a successful team.

Unfinished business: Manchester United's Wayne Rooney

Unfinished business: Manchester United's Wayne Rooney

'I think I have the ability to do the job but I'm not naive. If you don't get results, questions will be asked and there will be those saying there is someone else who can do the job better. In reality, there is no magic wand. I was satisfied with the response of the players at the European Championship after a short time with them. Now we have a couple of years, hopefully, to work together for the World Cup and we'll be more together than for the Euros.'

IN the next seven months, England will play Brazil twice in all likelihood. In February, as preparation for Hodgson's vitally important World Cup qualifying match in Montenegro – leaders of England's group – Brazil have been invited to play at Wembley.

They will be under the direction again of Luiz Felipe Scolari, who coached Brazil to their last World Cup in 2002. The former Chelsea manager replaced Mano Menezes last week.

'I know Phil from when we lived close, when I managed Fulham and he was at Chelsea, then I met him again in Sao Paulo last summer,' said Hodgson. 'There will be a few more Brazilian TV cameras at Wembley in February.'

Hodgson hopes to play Brazil in a second friendly in June at Rio's famous Maracana Stadium, which is being rebuilt for the World Cup and should be ready for the Copa America this summer.

'I'd love for England to play in the Maracana, it's like the holy ground of football,' he said. 'If not, we'd be happy to play Brazil somewhere else in Rio to get the taste of the sight and sounds of football here; anywhere except on the beach, we'd have no chance there!'

England have won just three of their 23 matches against Brazil, most memorably the 2-0 victory in the Maracana when John Barnes dribbled through the Brazilian defence in 1984. Gary Lineker was the scorer when England last won; at Wembley 22 years ago.

But England must also navigate six more qualifying matches to reach 2014, including the hazardous trip to Montenegro on March 26.

'They are No 1 in our group with a couple of points on us. We don't want that gap to become greater,' he said. He craves the opportunity to examine his skills when the World Cup is hosted by the Brazilians, winners of the trophy a record five times, for the first occasion since 1950.

'All managerial jobs are stressful, and sometimes you can lose your job because things are not working out with the players you are using,' said Hodgson, perhaps remembering his short spell at Liverpool. 'But it's not something I lie awake at night worrying about. I like to think that the people I work with respect my ability to do the job.'

Sunderland deny Martin O"Neill resignation reports

Sunderland move swiftly to deny claims O'Neill offered to walk away after West Brom defeat

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UPDATED:

15:28 GMT, 25 November 2012

Sunderland have been quick to deny reports that manager Martin O'Neill offered his resignation in the wake of the club's home defeat to West Brom.

The Black Cats, who have won twice in their last 20 Premier League games, were booed off by fans after suffering a 4-2 reverse against the in-form Baggies, leaving them just three points above the relegation zone.

It was then claimed that the Northern
Irishman, who has been in charge less than a year, had offered to end
his three-year deal with the club.

Up against it: Martin O'Neill has not offered to quit Sunderland, say the club

Up against it: Martin O'Neill has not offered to quit Sunderland, say the club

But Sky Sports reported on Sunday morning that the club had told them O'Neill had 'unequivocally not resigned'.

Speaking after Saturday's defeat, the 60-year-old seemed positive.

He said: 'We have a lot of work to do, we accept that. What I don't want is players getting concerned and worried because we have lost the last couple of games here and suddenly everybody is against us.'

He then added: 'I don't mind getting beaten four or five-nil if it means that we are trying to turn a deficit back around again. There was always that possibility that West Bromwich Albion would maybe get a third goal.

'As it turns out, Simon Mignolet made a really good save after we had got off to a good start in the second half, so that kept us going.

'But we have to show that fight and determination throughout the whole season, not for one, not for two games, three games.

'If we had got something out of this, that would have kept it going. As it turns out, it has knocked us back again, but we will go and we have got to be prepared for Tuesday now.'

Martin O"Neill vows to transform Sunderland

I'll turn it around! Under-fire O'Neill defiant in face of Sunderland quit rumours

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UPDATED:

23:03 GMT, 9 November 2012

Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill has vowed to transform the club, despite their difficult start to the season.

Amid Twitter rumours that the ex-Aston Villa boss was considering his position after the loss to his former club left the Black Cats in 16th, O’Neill has assured fans that he will turn around the club’s fortunes.

Under pressure: Martin O'Neill is feeling the heat after a slow start to the season

Under pressure: Martin O'Neill is feeling the heat after a slow start to the season

Sunderland have the worst goals and shots on target ratio in England and travel to bogey team Everton today. They have not won at Goodison Park in 13 games since November 1996, letting in 35 goals.

O’Neill said: ‘We are trying to improve the team, if we can, but it just takes a bit of time. It’s not overnight — I have not completed a season yet — but I intend to do that.

‘I’m sitting here today in early November 2012. I hope that in a couple of seasons we’ll have really strong team — being as strong as Everton are, for instance. That would be a reasonable model for us.’

Lee Cattermole: Sunderland will turn season around

Captain Cattermole: We can't hit the net but Sunderland will be alright

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UPDATED:

18:02 GMT, 5 November 2012

Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole insists Martin O’Neill’s shell-shocked players can turn around their season.

Saturday’s defeat to Aston Villa has left the Black Cats squandering in 16th and the stats are stacked against them.

They have not scored in eight hours, taking away Demba Ba’s own goal in the Tyne-Wear derby which makes him the club’s second top scorer Steven Fletcher who has five, but hasn’t scored in games.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/teampages/sunderland.html

Confident: Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole believes the club can reverse their stuttering start

Not that he’s had many chances. Sunderland have managed just 13 shots on target all season and it is a hindrance they struggled to shake off against Villa, who clocked up their first away win.

In fact Cattermole, who went agonisingly close when Sunderland were on top, managed the only shot on target, and even that was nearly chalked off because Steven Fletcher was judged offside after trying to beat Brad Guzan to the shot the American spilled.

The midfielder was outstanding but his efforts, which were acknowledged by a 40,000-plus crowd which stuck volubly with their increasingly desperate team, were not enough to prevent their second defeat of the season.

Cattermole said: 'The fans were magnificent towards the end whereas in the past they have got on the players' backs at times. Against Villa they were absolutely brilliant and we all appreciate that support.

'As a team we are absolutely devastated. We will stick together and it is as good a dressing room as I have ever been in.

'There is no arguing, there will be points that need to be made and nobody is happy with losing games. We have to win more than we lose this year, but the dressing room is very strong.

'The dressing room is absolutely brilliant and it is still up-beat. The lads are great. People can have disagreements, and it's good we can have a row with each other because we are all in it together. We understand that.

'People keep saying Johno because he is that good a player. He cant do it all of the time. We all have to help each other out.

'We have top, top footballers here. You are going to see some quality here this season. Before Saturday we had only lost to Man City and there is a lot of pressure on the team for not scoring goals. We have to keep working hard. The quality will come through in the end.

'We can do different drills in training, we have been doing that, getting the ball out wide. At the minute we are not doing the right stuff.

'It's not quite happening for us at the moment. If we had managed to score first in the Villa game then it would give us such a huge lift in confidence and have had an effect on the away team as well.

'I'm not a massive believer in stats, but we haven’t created enough chances and it is something we are working on. We believe in the team we have got.

'There is real quality in that dressing room to turn this around.'

James McFadden joins Sunderland

Sunderland snap-up former Scotland striker McFadden on a free

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UPDATED:

09:55 GMT, 26 October 2012

New start: Former Scotland international James McFadden has joined Sunderland

New start: Former Scotland international James McFadden has joined Sunderland

Free agent James McFadden has completed his move to Sunderland on a short-term contract.

Manager Martin O'Neill revealed on Thursday that the 29-year-old former Scotland international would put pen to paper within 24 hours, and the Black Cats have confirmed he has now done that as the attempts to rekindle his career.

Free agent McFadden spent six months at Everton last season after being released by Birmingham.

He will spend the next three months on Wearside as O'Neill assesses whether or not he can return to the form which brought him 48 senior caps.

James McFadden hopes to join Sunderland

O'Neill ready to hand McFadden lifeline with short-term deal at Sunderland

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UPDATED:

10:11 GMT, 20 September 2012

Martin O'Neill is set to offer James McFadden the chance to resurrect his career at Sunderland.

All smiles: James McFadden is training with Sunderland

All smiles: James McFadden is training with Sunderland

The 29-year-old free agent hopes to earn a short-term deal after being invited to train with the Black Cats.

McFadden has been without a club since his release this summer by Everton.

The former Motherwell favourite turned down a chance to return to Fir Park and an offer to join Aberdeen in the hope of staying in the Premier League.

Meanwhile, Sunderland’s Titus Bramble is sweating on a new contract offer.

The defender’s current 30,000-a-week deal expires at the end of the season and talks on a new one are yet to start.

Bramble said: 'I’m very happy and I want to stay.

'If I’m playing games, I don’t see why I won’t get offered a new contract. The challenge is to play as many as possible.'

Lee Cattermole urged to sign new Sunderland contract by boss Martin O"Neill

Sign up, Lee! O'Neill urges skipper Cattermole to put pen to paper on new contract

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UPDATED:

12:29 GMT, 11 September 2012

Martin O'Neill wants Sunderland skipper Lee Cattermole to commit his future to the Stadium of Light and sign a new deal.

The midfielder's contract expires at the end of the season and boss O'Neill is desperate to end any uncertainty before the next transfer window opens in January.

Sign on: Martin O'Neill wants Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole to put pen to paper on a new contract

Sign on: Martin O'Neill wants Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole to put pen to paper on a new contract

O'Neill lauded the 24-year-old's impressive start to the season but warned combative ace Cattermole still must work to avoid any disciplinary problems and cut out any 'silly' bookings.

‘Cattermole has been excellent since I came to the football club – and he may well have been before, I don’t know about that,’ O’Neill told the Sunderland Echo.

‘He’s 24 and he’s the captain of the side. Sometimes he needs to keep his discipline better because over the course of the year I expect he’ll pick up a couple of silly bookings.

‘I don’t want to build him up too much though – particularly as he has a contract to sign here!’

Cattermole has been sent off four times since he joined the Black Cats for 6million from Barclays Premier League rivals Wigan in 2009.

Sunderland winger Ahmed Elmohamady joins Hull on loan

Egypt winger Elmohamady reunited with former Sunderland boss Bruce at Hull

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UPDATED:

16:57 GMT, 30 August 2012

Hull have signed Sunderland winger Ahmed Elmohamady on a season-long loan.

The Egypt international has been
linked with the npower Championship side almost from the moment former
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce took the reins at the KC Stadium.

Loan move: Ahmed Elmohamady

Loan move: Ahmed Elmohamady

Elmohamady, 24, has made 60 appearances for the Black Cats since Bruce signed him from ENPPI in his homeland in August 2010, initially on loan before the deal was made permanent last summer.

He scored his only goal in that time in last season's 2-2 draw with West Brom at the Stadium of Light.

Elmohamady's opportunities on Wearside were likely to be further limited following the signing of Adam Johnson from Manchester City, and he becomes Bruce's sixth signing of the summer.

Helsingborgs 2 Sunderland 0: Black Cats poor pre-season continues in Sweden

Helsingborgs 2 Sunderland 0: Black Cats poor pre-season continues in Sweden

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UPDATED:

17:57 GMT, 4 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Sunderland's disappointing pre-season continued as they followed up their pre-season defeat to Hartlepool with a defeat to Helsingborgs in Sweden.

After a goalless first half the hosts took the lead after Alfreo Finnbogason's strike hit the post then rebounded off goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and into the net.

The lead was doubled after 73 minutes when a low strike eight yards out by May Mahlangu went under the Belgian.

Tough day: Sunderland's Ryan Shawcross looks dejected

Tough day: Sunderland's Ryan Shawcross looks dejected

North-east rivals Newcastle faired better as they drew 0-0 with Dutch side ADO Den Haag.

Gabriel Obertan was unlucky not to find the net with a dipping volley after 24 minutes which was well saved by home stopper Gino Coutinho, while Shola Ameobi had a goal ruled out for offside after 79 minutes.