Double blow for O'Neill who was told he had 'resigned' while re-watching West Brom defeat
21:00 GMT, 26 November 2012
Martin O’Neill was still in his office at the club, watching a re-run of Sunderland’s defeat to West Brom, when he discovered he had 'resigned'.
The Sunderland manager was contacted on Saturday night by the club’s press officer Louise Wanless, and then owner Ellis Short, to be told news of his pending departure from the Stadium of Light had hit cyberspace.
'It was a double whammy,' O’Neill said. 'I’d just reached the point when the referee had given the penalty to West Brom so I was cursing twice.'
Oh no! Martin O'Neill heard the perplexing news while watching his team lose on video
The rumour that O’Neill had offered his resignation was tweeted by his former player Stan Collymore and broadcast as a fact after West Brom’s 4-2 win.
Sunderland, and O’Neill, then had the difficult task of whether to comment fully on a non-story, in the fear that it would give it some credence.
'People tweet now and it runs like wildfire,' said O’Neill. 'It has got to the stage where I just accept it but if you go out of your way to dismiss it then it keeps running.'
O’Neill was in good humour as he sought the best way to deal with the issue three days later. He even quoted The Sundance Kid at one point. 'I wanna fight them,’ he said, without the accent. 'I want to fight 'em, so let’s stay and fight em.'
But there is the serious issue of his future and commitment to the Sunderland cause. O’Neill has been the subject of internet rumours for the last month, not helped by his side’s indifferent start to the season which saw them fell to 16th in the Premier League. He remains defiant and insisted he and owner Short are in it for the long haul.
O’Neill said: 'The owner has said to me this will take some time to get things together here. I don’t intend to do it in 10 years as that would bore the life out of everybody but I intend to do it as quickly as I possibly can.
'I don’t say I know Mr Short fantastically well but we’ve had some very good conversations and he is the one pointing out to me this will take time. He is not expecting anything at the minute and he genuinely wants stability at the football club.
Bad start: Sunderland have been less than impressive this season
'In the past it’s the teams who have shown stability who have come through it. It is tough, there is no doubt and like everybody else I would not mind a few more points on the board if we could get them, but I knew it would be tough. I want to do well at the club and more importantly I expect to do well.
'We will look to strengthen the squad. In the course of time I think both of us want to deliver a team that not only would the fans be delighted with but also a side that can compete.
'I spent five years at Wycombe, five years at Celtic and four and a half at Leicester and four years at Aston Villa. I am not sure where the quitting thing comes in.
Dark days: O'Neill admits times are tough at the moment
'It is pretty tough. I have chosen the job, don’t get me wrong, there are as many dark days as rosy ones. You have to get through it and I would expect somewhere along the way my time in the game will stand me in good stead.'
O’Neill has not ruled out captain Lee Cattermole from QPR’s visit to Wearside on Tuesday night but John O’Shea is injured.
Police will advise supporters to set off early for the game after the A19 was shut north and south in Wearside on Monday.
O’Neill visited the Stadium of Light and is confident the pitch, subject to a postponement in the first month of the season, will handle another deluge on the day.