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Saturday 30 March 2013

Sunderland part company with manager O'Neill

Manager leaves after defeat by Manchester United raises fears of relegation

Sunderland under O'Neill had not won the past eight league matches

Sunderland have parted company with manager Martin O'Neill, the club have said in a statement on Saturday.

The decision came after Sunderland lost 1-0 at home to Manchester United to leave them one point above the relegation zone of the Barclays Premier League.

"The club would like to place on record its thanks to Martin and wishes him well for the future"
Sunderland statement

"Sunderland AFC has announced that it has parted company with manager Martin O'Neill this evening," a statement on their website said. "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."

O'Neill had joined Sunderland, his boyhood club, in December 2011, succeeding Steve Bruce, but a run of eight league games without a win, yielding three points led to his exit after 15 months in the position.

Writing in his programme notes for the United match Ellis Short, the club owner, expressed his dissatisfaction with the present situation but called for a united front from the club and their fans.

"Of course, there is nobody that is happy with our current position and the way our season is going," he wrote. "The reality is that we have a fight on our hands with eight games remaining.

"We know that we are capable of playing better than we have been doing and we know that we need to begin doing so now. I can assure you that every person at the club is doing everything they can to ensure that the season ends on a positive note and when the season is over, we can take stock of what happened.

"Right now, however, there is only one thing that every one of us should be focused on, and that is doing our part whatever that is in helping this team to get the points we need. I'm very aware that our supporters, who have backed us week in, week out in such huge numbers, aren't happy and fully understand why.

"But right now, it is important for us all to be on the same side and get behind the team. Not being together will not help us to get results, so let's stand shoulder to shoulder and give the team our full support."

When O'Neill was hired by Short the club were threatened with relegation but a run of seven victories in his first 10 league games eased the worries.

However, those fears returned this season and were compounded by the news that Steven Fletcher, the club’s leading scorer this season, was ruled out for the rest of the season this week after damaging his ankle playing for Scotland. The forward’s 11 goals had been a big contribution to the 31 points Sunderland have won this season.

Whoever comes in faces a tough set of fixtures with trips to Chelsea and local rivals Newcastle United next.

Sunderland’s remaining fixtures

7 April Chelsea (A)
13 Apr Newcastle (A)
20 Apr Everton (H)
27 Apr Aston Villa (A)
4 May Stoke City (H)
12 May Southampton (H)
19 May Spurs (A)

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Key Points

  • Sunderland announce they have parted company with manager Martin O'Neill
  • The decision comes after a 1-0 defeat by Man Utd
  • Sunderland remain a point above the Barclays Premier League relegation zone