The Martin O’Neill Conundrum

Following Martin O'Neill's departure from the Stadium of Light, we take a look at his managerial history and ask what is next for him.

In the past, Martin O’Neill was hailed as the heir-apparent for some of the biggest jobs in English football.

At various times he has been talked of as the next manager of Manchester United, Liverpool and the England national team. But now he finds himself out of a job having been sacked by Sunderland.

It was a decision that has been agreed with and derided in equal measure, but those same feelings have met many managerial departures this season.

Much has already been said about O’Neill’s replacement, Paulo Di Canio. Time will tell if it is a masterstroke or a disaster. But what next for the Northern Irishman; and why is he hailed as a legend at some clubs and considerably less so at others?

Ask a Wycombe Wanderers fan what they think of O’Neill and they will regale you with stories of successive promotions and some of the greatest moments in their history.

Ask a Leicester City fan, and they will call him their most successful manager – as two League Cups, European campaigns and regular top-half finishes in the top flight testify. What they would give for that now as they continue their worrying slip down the Championship.

And ask Celtic fans and you won’t have enough time for them to tell you everything. In short, he was spectacular for them.

Just don’t ask Norwich fans…where he lasted only six months before leaving following disagreements over transfer funds.

And be careful which Aston Villa fan you speak to, because despite success at Villa Park, he left them just five days before the start of 2010-11 season. It could be argued that the club have been slowly slipping since.

And now he has left the Stadium of Light with Sunderland just one point outside the relegation zone; this despite a squad that should be considerably higher, perhaps not based on form but certainly on personnel. Because with a strike-force of Steven Fletcher and Danny Graham, midfielders of the quality of Seb Larson, Adam Johnson and Stephane Sessegnon and experience across the back-line, the Black Cats shouldn’t be in this position.

It is easy to say that. But the players just haven’t performed this season, while the twin injury blow dealt to Fletcher and Lee Cattermole is huge at such a crucial time.

So perhaps O’Neill leaves his latest club as neither a legend nor a failure. He just leaves. And the man who replaces him will either save them or take them down.

But he is some way short of the man once linked with the most sought-after positions in the country. And you wonder if he will ever be that manager, or any manager, again.

What are your memories of O'Neill as a manager?  And where do you think he will manage next...if anywhere?

image: © vagueonthehow

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