Monday, November 5, 2012
Martin O'Neill - Is his time up?
Do you remember a few years ago when Martin O'Neill was being spoken about as a potential Manchester United, Chelsea or Liverpool manager? People used to boost him up as the next big thing and most teams were squandering themselves over who would get him.
That was back in 2005, or so, when O'Neill led Celtic to 3 SPL titles, 3 Scottish cups and 1 Scottish league cup. His name was being mentioned in the same breath as the legendary Jock Stein for his achievements at Celtic. But is that a fair judgement? Think of it. What has O'Neill won in England ever since his humble beginnings at Wycombe Wanderers?
Unless I'm mistaken, he's only ever won the League Cup with Leicester City (twice) and that's about it. That's not to discredit his success in Scotland or any of the minor trophies he lifted with Wycombe Wanderers, but surely there must be something that's given him such a high value in the managerial market in the UK?
Following his spell at Celtic, O'Neill took time off the game to take care of his then sick wife. When Martin O'Neill returned to management he took over the helm at Aston Villa, and you couldn't blame Villa's fans for thinking he would be a huge success. Relatively to what they had to deal with prior to O'Neill - he was. With the likes of David O'Leary and Graham Taylor in charge before his arrival, that wasn't such a difficult task though. It was only sensible that a name like O'Neill's would be ready to steady the Villa ship when he was given the charge.
However, what's happened since then? This is the same man that people were saying would be good enough to take over Manchester United (and there was serious talk about it back in 2002 before Fergie performed his famous U-Turn). But it feels like it's been the slowest decline ever since. O'Neill left Aston Villa at the start of the 2010/11 season because of a lack of "support" from his chairman (probably no money for transfers, or just an excuse to leave them while they were struggling) and that supposedly caused his departure. The club have struggled since he left and he hasn't done better either. When he took over at Sunderland, there was a sense of expectation that this might just be what suits O'Neill best. A mid-table club, with sufficient funds available and a chairman known for his patience. This could be the match made in heaven for O'Neill.
Fast forward one year (almost) since the Irishman became the boss at the Stadium of Light and his record has been poor to say the least. 9 wins out of 24 last season under O'Neill, 1 win out of 10 so far this season, 1 win in their last 18 games...the picture paints itself. Sunderland are in relegation form and the man in charge is supposedly one of the best managers in the country. Is his time up? Sunderland's record under Steve Bruce was getting embarrassing by the time he got the sack, but by the looks of things, O'Neill isn't much better.