Tag Archives: turnstiles

League two team Morecambe open their turnstiles for free to local supporters as attendance numbers drop

League Two side Morecambe open their turnstiles for free to local fans

Liv Lee


13:36 GMT, 7 January 2013



19:24 GMT, 7 January 2013

The economic climate has left some small football clubs in such dire need of support that they are having to offer free tickets to the locals.

League two side Morecambe have suffered low attendance rates all season, and are now allowing any supporters free entry to their tie with Dagenham & Redbridge on Tuesday.

‘It’s a chance to get the community behind the team and see if we can generate some atmosphere,’ club boss Jim Bentley told BBC Radio Lancashire.

Morecambe has had an average attendance of less than 2,000 this season

Struggling: Morecambe has had an average attendance of less than 2,000 this season

‘If we can get three points and play well, hopefully they’ll come back as paying customers.’

‘The situation that the club’s in is not ideal,’ said Bentley of the lack of funding that’s left him unable to search out additions to the squad.

‘Everyone’s feeling the pinch and attendances haven’t been what we predicted.

‘We’re not in a position to go out and get players. We’ve got to work with what we’ve got and we’ve got a squad that will give their all.

‘It will be great if we can get a good number (of fans) in and, as I say, they can come back as paying customers. It’s the town’s football club and we need more and more people to back it.’

The Globe Arena has had an average attendance of fewer than 2,000 this season. It comes close to being the least supported team in the League. The highest it’s reached this year has been 3, 635 for their draw with Bradford on New Year’s Day.

Those in attendance have had little to cheer for so far, with Morecambe currently sitting at 19th in the table.

Alex Ferguson mural to be hung at Manchester United"s Old Trafford stadium

Revealed: The Fergie mural of success that will greet you at Old Trafford (and what it looks like to have won 37 trophies)



11:37 GMT, 23 November 2012

This is the giant Sir Alex Ferguson mural that will greet Manchester United fans when they enter Old Trafford.

Surrounded by his incredible haul of 37 trophies, Ferguson holds his arms out wide in a show of his dominance of English football.

Tribute: This mural will hang in the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand at Old Trafford to celebrate his unrivalled success


The 70-year-old, who will have his own statue unveiled outside Old Trafford at 2pm today, is the centre of attention as the club celebrate his 26 years in charge.

The giant mural will be hung across the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand and will be glimpsed by fans for the first time at tomorrow’s Barclays Premier League clash with QPR.

It will be displayed on the concourse as fans pass through the turnstiles at the stadium.

His whopping trophy haul is this – 12 Premier League trophies, two Champions League trophies, five FA Cups and four League Cups.

It is a dramatic reminder of his unrivalled success at United as he enters the finals years of his reign.

Eric Cantona and Ruud van Nistelrooy will be amongst the most notable guests at the unveiling of a statue in honour of Ferguson.

United commissioned award-winning sculptor Philip Jackson to create the nine-foot bronze statue which will be placed outside the stand that already bears Ferguson's name.

The precise details of the statue are yet to be revealed but Ferguson recently inspected it himself and declared himself satisfied.

His longevity at Old Trafford is encapsulated by the guests who will be in attendance.

In addition to Cantona, who signed for United almost 20 years ago in probably the most astute transfer of Ferguson's 26-year reign, and Van Nistelrooy, who scored 150 goals in five seasons but has never been back to the club since he was sensationally jettisoned in 2006, Ferguson's first captain, Bryan Robson, will be there, plus Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who scored that famous injury-time match-winner in the 1999 Champions League final.

United's entire first-team squad will also be present, as will England coach and long-time Red Devil Gary Neville.

Fergie 37… The Rest 31: How he squares up against his current Premier League rivals…

Arsene Wenger 11… Premier League (3), FA Cup (4), Community Shield (4)

Martin O’Neill 5… League Cup (2), FA Trophy (2), Football Conference (1)

Rafa Benitez 4… Champions League (1), FA Cup (1), UEFA Super Cup (1), Community Shield (1)

Roberto Mancini 3… Premier League (1), FA Cup (1), Community Shield (1)

Chris Hughton 1 (Championship)

Brian McDermott 1 (Championship)

Nigel Adkins 1 (League One)

Paul Lambert 1 (League One)

Roberto Martinez 1 (League One)

David Moyes 1 (Second Division)

Sam Allardyce 1 (Third Division)

Alan Pardew 1 (Football League Trophy)

0 Martin Jol, Brendan Rodgers, Mark Hughes, Tony Pulis, Michael Laudrup, Andre Villas-Boas, Steve Clarke

Sir Alex Ferguson, pictured below with Eric Cantona in 1996, has won 37 trophies – Premier League x 12, Champions League x 2, FA Cup x5, League Cup x 4, Community Shield x 10, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, UEFA Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup, FIFA Club World Cup)

Alex Ferguson and Eric Cantona in 1996

Kenny Dalglish: Sir Alex Ferguson was straight on the phone after Hillsborough

Sir Alex was straight on the phone: Dalglish hails Ferguson for reaction after Hillsborough



12:36 GMT, 22 September 2012

Kenny Dalglish insists there will be no problem at Anfield when Liverpool meet Manchester United – and praised Sir Alex Ferguson for his actions immediately following the Hillsborough disaster.

Writing in his column in the Daily Mirror, the Anfield icon labelled sick chants about the Munich air crash and Hillsborough as 'absolutely scandalous'.

'Although there is no love lost between United and Liverpool, there is an underlying respect for each other, even though at times it might be through gritted teeth.

Old foes: Kenny Dalglish (left) and Sir Alex Ferguson have locked horns many times

Old foes: Kenny Dalglish (left) and Sir Alex Ferguson have locked horns many times

'That’s why I don’t think there will be a problem at Anfield,' said Dalglish.

Ferguson has written a letter to United supporters attending the Premier League encounter. It will be presented to fans as they enter the turnstiles and is a final plea aimed at getting them to behave themselves.

And, although acknowledging the long-standing rivalry between the clubs, Dalglish was quick to praise his counterpart for his reactions 26 years ago.

'Some love him, some hate him, but when
something terrible happens, like Hillsborough, Alex is one of the first
asking what he can do,' he said.

Praise: Dalglish hailed Ferguson for his actions after Hillsbrough

Praise: Dalglish hailed Ferguson for his actions after Hillsbrough

And he also had a message for fans of both clubs who have chanted about the tragedies.

'These chants, on both sides, are absolutely scandalous,' he said.

'Unless they’ve actually been through something like that, they can have no comprehension of how difficult it is for the people involved and the families affected by these kind of tragedies,' he said.

Sir Alex Ferguson writes letter to Manchester United fans ahead of Liverpool match

I know I can count on you! Ferguson pens letter in final plea to United fans ahead of Anfield clash



18:12 GMT, 21 September 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson has written a letter to Manchester United supporters attending Sunday's Premier League encounter with Liverpool.

The letter will be presented to fans as they enter the turnstiles and is a final plea aimed at getting them to behave themselves.

Earlier on Friday Ferguson spoke of the sensitivities surrounding the fixture, Liverpool's first at home since the damning judgement on the Hillsborough disaster was released last week.

Big test ahead: Sir Alex Ferguson speaks during a press conference at Carrington on Friday morning

Big test ahead: Sir Alex Ferguson speaks during a press conference at Carrington on Friday morning

And he wants an end to the baiting of Liverpool fans over the disaster, in which 96 people died.

As published by the club's official website, Ferguson's letter reads: 'Dear Supporter,
'The great support you gave the team here [at Anfield] last season has
seen our allocation back up to near-full levels. I want you to continue
that progress today.

'But today [Sunday] is about much
more than not blocking gangways. Today is about thinking hard about what
makes United the best club in the world.

Competitive: (left-right) Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Samed Yesil battle in training on Friday

Competitive: (left-right) Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Samed Yesil battle in training on Friday

Keen eye: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers (second right) oversees training at Melwood

Keen eye: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers (second right) oversees training at Melwood

'Our rivalry with Liverpool is based
on a determination to come out on top – a wish to see us crowned the
best against a team that held that honour for so long.

'It cannot and should never be based
on personal hatred. Just 10 days ago, we heard the terrible, damning
truth about the deaths of 96 fans who went to watch their team try and
reach the FA Cup final and never came back.

'What happened to them should wake the conscience of everyone connected with the game.

'Our great club stands with our great
neighbours Liverpool today to remember that loss and pay tribute to
their campaign for justice. I know I can count on you to stand with us
in the best traditions of the best fans in the game.

'Yours sincerely, Sir Alex Ferguson.'

Respect: Everton and Newcastle showed their support on Monday for the 96 victims of the disaster

Respect: Everton and Newcastle showed their support on Monday for the 96 victims of the disaster

Respect: Everton and Newcastle showed their support on Monday for the 96 victims of the disaster

Ferguson admitted he could not
discount the emotion having a negative effect on his players. Liverpool
intend to mark the occasion with a number of significant gestures,
including a mosaic across three sides of the stadium.

And having gone through something
very similar four years ago on the 50th anniversary of the Munich air
disaster, the Red Devils boss accepts it may have a hidden impact.

Head and shoulders above: Luis Suarez in training

Head and shoulders above: Luis Suarez in training

'It's a possibility, I don't deny that,' Ferguson said. 'Human nature can be that way.

'When we played Manchester City for
the 50th anniversary of Munich the place was so flat in the dressing
room before the game. I even felt it myself.

'We just couldn't perform and were
glad to get it out the way. It was such an emotional day for us and it
could be that way on Sunday.'

If the significance of the occasion cannot be understated, neither can the need for points.
Liverpool are yet to win since Brendan Rodgers' arrival and hover precariously over the relegation zone.

United have stabilised their campaign
with three successive victories since an opening weekend loss at
Everton, but they have failed to win any of their last five matches at
Anfield – their worst return for two decades.

'It's similar to when I came down here,' said Ferguson. 'We could beat Liverpool but we couldn't win the league.

'The motivation leans on the side of
Liverpool, particularly at Anfield. The crowd get behind them and they
make it a real competition in terms of challenges and tackles.

'We know that will happen on Sunday.

'Last season we handled them much
better. It was 1-1 in the league and nothing between the teams, then we
threw away the FA Cup tie.

'We were by the far better team that day. If we get that performance on Sunday we will be okay.'

Reds boss Rodgers has built an
impressive reputation through his time as a coach at Chelsea and
eye-catching managerial stints at Watford and Swansea.

Yet some are already starting to question whether the 39-year-old is the right man to occupy such a challenging role.

It reminds Ferguson of the position Andre Villas-Boas found himself in at Chelsea. And that did not end well for the Portuguese.

'Any young manager needs time but in the modern world you don't get a lot of that,' said Ferguson.
'Look at Villas-Boas at Chelsea last season. He was a young man who lasted about seven months.

'We're in an age where patience is not a realistic thing. It's just not there.'

Ferguson accepts times have changed
from his arrival at Old Trafford, where he was into his fourth year
before he finally managed to secure some silverware. But the key to
success remains the same. You have to win.

'The only route for any manager is success,' he said. 'It's a results industry so winning matches is important.

'It's a different game from when I started. There was less pressure.

'The world has changed. The press has changed. But I always felt I needed to win games.

'That's what you're in it for. It
doesn't matter whether you're managing Port Vale, Liverpool or
Manchester United, you have to get results.'

Meanwhile, Liverpool boss Rodgers expects the game to be played in the right spirit.

He said: 'There has been dialogue all week. There is respect in terms of the traditions of both clubs. We want this day to be remembered for the right reasons before the game, and the footballing reasons.

'A lot of work has been done and hopefully Sunday will pass off peacefully and well and we can talk about the tributes and football.

'It is an emotionally-charged game. I wouldn't sit here and tell Liverpool supporters how to behave. I know how they have behaved over many years has been fantastic.

'These are well-educated supporters who value humanity. I have no issues or no problems there, the message has been clear, and from Sir Alex as well, in relation to his supporters.

'I am sure once we pay the tributes to the families we can get on with the football.'

Canadian Grand Prix 2012: Free day scrapped amid fear of protests in Montreal

Canadian Grand Prix 'open doors' day scrapped amid fear of protests in Montreal



12:03 GMT, 4 June 2012

Canadian Grand Prix organisers have cancelled a free access day for spectators at the Montreal Formula One circuit because of fears that student protesters will try to disrupt the event.

An official statement said there would be no Thursday 'Open Doors' day, an important and popular part of the build-up to Sunday's race.

Disruptive: There are fears student protesters will disrupt the race in Montreal

Disruptive: There are fears student protesters will disrupt the race in Montreal

'Following a serious examination of the situation, made necessary by public disruption threats and the difficulty to measure their precise validity, the organizers came to the conclusion that it is necessary to restrain the access to Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve and precisely the F1 pit lane,' it said.

Francois Dumontier, president of the race, said the risks could not be ignored.

When it rains... Last year's Montreal Grand Prix saw showers throughout

When it rains… Last year's Montreal Grand Prix saw showers throughout

'One of our primary obligations is to ensure the comfort and the security of the participants and the spectators, something we will do as we open the turnstiles Friday morning, and again during the whole weekend,' he said.

'Considering the various disruption threats made public recently, the free admission and the naturally open character of the 'Open Doors' day revealed some risks that we could not neglect.

'Under these circumstances, cancelling the 'Open Doors' day was the only action we could take.'

Winner Mark Webber won in Monaco last month

Winner Mark Webber won in Monaco last month

The sometimes violent student strike began in mid-February after the Quebec provincial government announced plans to raise tuition fees.

Tourism is a major source of revenue for Montreal and the race attracted some 300,000 people last year according to the local tourism authority.

This would not be the first time an F1 event has been affected by protesters this season.

Protesters demanded that the Bahrain Grand Prix should be cancelled amid the unstable political situation in the region.

Controversially, the race went ahead and Sebastian Vettel won the race in April.

Mark Webber will be hoping to win back to back races, after his success in Monaco late in May.

Andy Burnham calls for Super League changes

Former cabinet member Burnham calls for changes to Super League format



11:08 GMT, 21 May 2012

Open letter: Andy Burnham MP has called for relegation and promotion to be brought back

Open letter: Andy Burnham MP has called for relegation and promotion to be brought back

Shadow minister Andy Burnham, a former culture secretary, is spearheading a bid to bring back promotion and relegation to Super League.

Burnham, whose constituency includes Championship club Leigh Centurions, wants the Rugby Football League to scrap the licensing system which was introduced in 2008 in place of automatic promotion, arguing it is damaging the game.

'Winning the right to go up a level is the lifeblood of any sport,' said Burnham.

'It provides the “dream factor” that keeps clubs alive and gives hope to fans coming through the turnstiles. Take it away and any sport will suffer at its lower levels.

'This is what is now happening to rugby league. The “closed shop” at the top is beginning to cause real damage to the sport.'

Burnham, who attended Leigh's recent 60-12 Challenge Cup defeat by Leeds, has written an open letter to the RFL calling for the successor to chairman Richard Lewis to make the issue a priority when he is appointed and is inviting fans to add their support.

In the letter, Burnham says: 'We believe the return of a proper annual system of promotion and relegation is urgent and essential to the long-term health of our sport at every level and we cite the following specific reasons to support its re-introduction.

'It's the British way of doing things. Do we really think that the same old sides year in, year out playing in the top flight is good for the game

Stranded: Leigh (in red) were relegated from the Super League in 2005

Stranded: Leigh (in red) were relegated from the Super League in 2005

'If you take away the dream of top-flight rugby league from the Championship clubs, you take away their lifeblood. Where is the incentive to invest in the squad if there is no prospect of promotion

'Likewise, without the threat of relegation where is the incentive for Super League clubs to improve, knowing they can and will remain in the top flight year on year.

'Promotion and relegation adds excitement and drama to the season at both ends of the tables. Currently bottom-of-the-table fixtures are played out as meaningless games.'

Super League is now in its second period of three-year licensing, which was introduced in an effort to introduce stability after clubs experienced extreme difficulties due to the previous 'yo-yo' system.

Clubs from the Championship are invited to apply for licences every three years as long as they meet minimum standards on and off the field, with potential to replace existing Super League clubs which consistently under-perform.

'Closed shop': Burnham criticised the structure of Super League

'Closed shop': Burnham criticised the structure of Super League

Widnes were elevated to Super League last year, taking the place of Crusaders after the Wrexham-based club opted to withdraw from the top flight.

An RFL spokesman said: 'We are aware of the comments made by Andy Burnham, the MP for Leigh, and welcome his contribution to the ongoing debate about licensing and promotion and relegation.

'Far from acting as a closed shop, licensing enables clubs to make a managed step up to Super League level from the part-time environment of the Championship, as Widnes Vikings have done since the end of last season.

'Super League licensing is an evolutionary mechanism which is currently undergoing the detailed review process we always undertake after each round of licensing.

'All clubs will have the opportunity to help shape the future of licensing and the RFL is, and always has been ready and willing to listen to feedback from all sections of the rugby league community.'

Old Trafford fans asked to arrive early for security trial

Man United and West Brom fans asked to arrive early at Old Trafford for security trial



23:00 GMT, 9 March 2012

Thousands of supporters attending Manchester United’s match with West Brom on Sunday have been told to arrive early to take part in extra security checks as part of a trial run ahead of the Olympics.

Old Trafford will stage football at the Games and all 75,000 fans, apart from those with executive tickets, will be searched and asked to put their belongings into a transparent bag ahead of the 2pm kick-off.

Season-ticket holders were sent a text message on Friday, which read: ‘In preparation for the Olympic Games, search tests will be trialled at all turnstiles at the West Brom game.

Security trial: Fans have been asked to arrive early at Old Trafford

Security trial: Fans have been asked to arrive early at Old Trafford

‘All supporters will be issued clear bags to empty pocket contents and any bags will be searched and sealed. We advise you to arrive early to avoid queues. Thank you in advance for your co-operation.’

There will be an additional line of club stewards positioned on the ground’s forecourt. They will check for valid tickets and confiscate any offensive items. Olympics officials will attend the match to observe proceedings.

Ticket-holders in a section of the Stretford End underwent a similar process last month, but officials are now testing the operation for the whole stadium.

Fans on Friday expressed their annoyance at the plans, suggesting they were being treated like ‘guinea pigs’ and questioning why they had not been informed sooner.

Outrage: Fans are furious at the late notice of the plans

Outrage: Fans are furious at the late notice of the plans

Tony Percival, a season ticket-holder said: ‘The Olympic Games has absolutely nothing to do with Manchester United and the money I pay to watch my team yet I’ve got to be inconvenienced.

‘I understand precautions have to be taken and training done, but don’t train people on my time. That’s what’s angered a lot of people.

‘I would also question why those in the executive seats are not being treated the same way.’

A spokesman for the Games’ organisers said: ‘Obviously Olympic security measures are a little more stringent than normal match days so security will be a bit tighter. We want to thank supporters for their patience.’

It is understood all other football stadiums hosting Olympic matches will undergo the same security trials before the end of the season.

Portsmouth in race to raise 1.8million – Michael Walker

On the road: Pompey's chimes in tune, but the clock is ticking

They banged the drum for Portsmouth for 90 minutes at London Road on Saturday.

That bloke with the bell was there as well. You could hear him. 'Play Up Pompey' was sung with gusto by the 1,276 fans who paid 18 to squeeze through Peterborough's cranking blue turnstiles and warm themselves on the tiny terrace with Portsmouth's first win in these parts since 1968.

'Is There A Fire Drill' they sang to dispirited home fans leaving their 3-0 defeat early. It was a Pompey party atmosphere on the terraces, but then, it goes without saying that Portsmouth do not win 3-0 away from home every week.

Three and easy: Portsmouth romped to away-day glory over Peterborough

Three and easy: Portsmouth romped to away-day glory over Peterborough

There was even a chirpy ditty about Harry Redknapp. That took you back. In a week when Portsmouth were given their latest winding-up order due to 1.8million owed to the taxman, the chant was a reminder, on an FA Cup weekend, of where Portsmouth were less than four years ago – and who Portsmouth were less than four years ago.

They finished eighth in the Premier League; they won the FA Cup 1-0 against Cardiff at Wembley. Visits to London Road were part of the past, so it was thought. Now liquidation looks as serious a possibility as administration.

David James, Glen Johnson, Sol Campbell, Sylvain Distin, Hermann Hreidarsson – that was the big, experienced and wage-heavy back five at Wembley.

John Utaka, Pedro Mendes, Lassana Diarra, Niko Kranjcar and Sulley Muntari – that still reads like a gifted midfield.

Former glories: Portsmouth won the FA Cup in 2008 after beating Cardiff in the final

Former glories: Portsmouth won the FA Cup in 2008 after beating Cardiff in the final

And scorer Kanu was up front. No wonder they won the Cup – that team might do OK in the Premier League today.

Hreidarsson left for Coventry City earlier this month, but Kanu, who joined Arsenal in 1999 and Pompey in 2006, remains at Fratton Park. He is 35 and injured, but he is a link to that team, the only one.

Link to the old school: Pompey veteran Kanu

Link to the old school: Pompey veteran Kanu

Michael Appleton, the manager who replaced Steve Cotterill in November, may need Kanu soon. One of the obvious ways to raise the 1.8m owed to HMRC is to sell players and there were covetous managers at London Road on Saturday witnessing Portsmouth's impressive display.

The transfer window closes at 11pm tomorrow night and there are offers for at least three Pompey players on the table from other Championship clubs.

A difficulty for buyers may be getting quick and clear responses. Sacha Gaydamak was allegedly the owner of Portsmouth when they won the Cup, though some said it was his father, the controversial Alexandre.

Hong Kong businessman Balram Chainrai became the fourth owner in a year when he took over in 2010 and he technically owns Ports-mouth FC. But there is a parent company,

Convers Sports Initiatives (CSI), headed by Vladimir Antonov. CSI has gone into administration, but the club haven't – yet.

Administrators, however, are on the premises so to speak – as, apparently, is football agent Phil Smith. Got all that

The HMRC deadline for their 1.8m payment – money that well-run clubs budget for – is February 20.

There is a scenario that sees Portsmouth failing to meet that deadline, being placed in administration and docked 10 points by the Football League.

A cynic could consider that more, not less, likely after the 3-0 win at Peterborough. Had Pompey lost, a 10-point deduction would leave them bottom of the Championship.

After the victory, losing 10 points could leave them fourth bottom on goal difference and in with a fighter's chance of avoiding relegation. Winning points has made losing them more palatable.

This is where Portsmouth have got to in 2012. In the circumstances the supporters' loyalty is all the more admirable.

There is hope and a plan that the next ownership of the club will involve them in some role. It is a situation we have become all too familiar with, clubs run recklessly, then reliant on fans for a bail-out.

The relationship between them and Appleton and the players was visible at London Road. Amid the bewildering detail of the financial chaos sucking at the very existence of the club, that was something for the travelling fans to cling to on the long dance home to Fratton on Saturday night.

Gary gunning for Spurs

Gary Smith started his job at Stevenage by making history on his first day. It's all downhill from here. Smith is an interesting appointment to succeed serial texter Graham Westley, who departed for Preston.

In charge: New Stevenage boss Gary Smith

In charge: New Stevenage boss Gary Smith

An Arsenal schoolboy, Smith was a player at Wycombe under Martin O'Neill in the 90s. He was managing the Colorado Rapids before Stevenage.

Smith had gone to Colorado for
Arsenal to set up an academy – Arsenal and the Rapids are partners due
to Gunners' shareholder Stan Kroenke owning the Rapids.

quickly progressed to manager and they won the MLS in 2010, against the
odds. Smith, 42, had another Wycombe figure, Steve Guppy, alongside him
in America and they were both at Broadhall Way on Saturday to see
Stevenage reach the FA Cup fifth round for the first time in their
history by beating Notts County.

The reward is tantalising – a home game against Tottenham, the team Gary's father Roger played for!

Martin O"Neill ticks all of Sunderland"s boxes – Northern Exposure

O”Neill ticks all the boxes to take Sunderland forward

If selecting a new manager is a box ticking exercise, Sunderland will be in the Champions League before they play Blackburn Rovers at the weekend.

Not a Geordie. Tick. Sunderland fan. Tick. Charming. Tick. Track record and trophy winner (as player and manager). Tick. All round good egg who can lift the club. Tick. Tick and Tick again.

Sunderland owner Ellis Short has delivered the manager the majority of Sunderland supporters wanted.

Scroll down for more

Box ticker: Martin O

Box ticker: Martin O”Neill is the right man to lead Sunderland forward

And having just sacked the manager who the majority of Sunderland supporters wanted rid of, Short has already won the popularity contest (which is no mean feat at the Stadium of Light).

More from Colin Young…

Northern Exposure: Fans” fury at Bruce gives Short no choice but to sharpen the axe

Northern Exposure: Bruce has three games to get fans back on his side

Northern Exposure: Newcastle even surprise themselves with brilliant start

Northern Exposure: Newcastle are on the up, but will the fans ever forgive Ashley

Northern Exposure: Stadium of Light, where most Mackems have been kept in the dark

Northern Exposure: Hartlepool show Newcastle and Sunderland how to pull in the big crowds

Northern Exposure: Pardew under no illusion over enormity of his Toon task

Northern Exposure: Bruce facing biggest test yet as a few familiar faces return to Sunderland


O’Neill is a bums on seat appointment, which will suit Short as an owner and chairman who will forever has his eye on the little computer in the directors’ room which counts the collective clicks on the turnstiles as they accumulate on match day.

It is certainly hard to imagine the computer going into overdrive this Sunday afternoon if Bruce was still the manager, especially if he had still been in charge for the unfortunate defeat at Wolves.

Of all the managers out there, either in work or not, O’Neill was the one man who could galvanise a Sunderland public who, judging by the reaction to this column last week, are comfortable with the expectations they place on their managers.

They drove Peter Reid (two seventh finishes) and Bruce (10th last season) out of the club, they got fed up with Mick McCarthy when the ridiculous spending restrictions tied his hands and they were starting to turn on Roy Keane before he had their minds up for them.

And every time the vacancy came up, they wanted O’Neill. Now they have him. Now the hard work starts.

The Irishman has not inherited a bad squad, in fact it is arguably one of the strongest in the history of the club. If they had a goalscorer like say Darren Bent or Asamoah Gyan (and don’t rule out Gyan returning) it would easily be the strongest.

Popular choice: Ellis Short has delivered a manager most of the fans will be happy with

Popular choice: Ellis Short has delivered a manager most of the fans will be happy with

Very few people questioned Bruce’s new recruits in the summer when he was signing a player a day in May and June and strengthening the team which had achieved only the third top ten finish in half century.

His downfall came because they did not gel quickly enough, and they dared to lose at home to Newcastle.

All that to come for O’Neill whose immediate priority is to work with players whose collective confidence is shot to pieces.

Inevitably, as there is a new manager and new coaches, there will be a change on the training ground where O’Neill and Steve Walford will find facilities among the best in the country, if not Europe. They even have undersoil heating this winter, a benefit none of his predecessors have enjoyed in their battles against the North East winter.

Not a popular choice: Steve Bruce was not a favourite at The Stadium of Life

Not a popular choice: Steve Bruce was not a favourite at The Stadium of Life

No matter what sessions, and what emphasis comes in the day-to-day work at the Academy of Light now, the biggest influence O’Neill will make will come in his dealings with those player.

He was eager to emphasise the need for clean slates at his press conference, for everyone he encounters, which will be good news for the likes of Bendtner and Bramble, but less so for Cattermole who starts the new era suspended.

O’Neill breezed into the Stadium of Light on Tuesday and was, of course, charm personified. He said all the right things, as every manager does on these occasions, but with a hint of genuine affection for the supporters, the region, and the club.

Boyhood heroes: O

Boyhood heroes: O”Neill will be helped by the fact he is a Sunderland fan

It is a bright new era for Sunderland. And it should be. But as O’Neill said himself, being a Sunderland fan gives him about a fortnight’s grace.

A feeling of optimism is already reverberating around the place, even before Sunday’s debut match. But then that was the case when Bruce was signing 11 players and Newcastle in particular were struggling to find new recruits.

Just minutes before O’Neill took his seat, alone, in the Riverview Suite on the stadium’s third floor, the sad news filtered through of Mick Wadsworth’s sacking down the road by Hartlepool United.

Shine a light: O

Shine a light: O”Neill will be expected to revive the fortunes of Sunderland

This column was one of the first to congratulate the League One club in the summer for its 100 season ticket initiative and the interest it had attracted in the town.

But getting rid of Wadsworth, who is no yes man, but one of the best and most qualified coaches in this country, is totally ridiculous and counter-productive. Hartlepool are five points off the play-offs, 10 above relegation, and once again fighting above their weight. What do the board expect

Gone: Hartlepool boss Mick Wadsworth is the latest manager from the North East to be sacked in recent weeks

Gone: Hartlepool boss Mick Wadsworth is the latest manager from the North East to be sacked in recent weeks

When they made a terrific start to the new campaign and were unbeaten after the first nine games, Wadsworth was a genius and the fans loved him – but even then not all the new season ticket holders turned up (but then you get the feeling if Lionel Messi was playing in their back garden some wouldn’t open the curtains). Some had just paid their money, end of, and would always pick and choose their matches.

Admittedly they are currently in a miserable run of seven home games without a win and attendances have fallen to around 4,500 (still nearly double last season’s average). And perhaps there are concerns already about re-launching the season ticket scheme for next season.

But if Hartlepool are to be seriously considered as an innovative club, why not go against the grain and show some faith in a manager who has worked under financial constraints without moaning Surely the board can see the excellent start to the season was no mistake. As usual, they think they can do the job better.

So, like every other club in the land, the knee-jerk reaction to disquiet among their fans is to fire the man in charge of picking the team. Sad, really.