Martin O'Neill Finally Named Sunderland Manager

After approximately 186 years of trying, Sunderland have today confirmed Martin O'Neill as manager of the club. The likable Northern Irishman has been out of work for over a year since leaving Aston Villa and has signed a 3-year contract to replace Steve Bruce in the manager's office at the Stadium of Light.

Despite his new team playing a day later than usual this week, on Sunday against Wolves, O'Neill is likely to take a watching brief from the stands at Molineux with Eric Black taking charge of team affairs.

Although they would be certain to deny it, the pace with which this appointment has gathered would seem to indicate that talks preceded the official announcement of Bruce's departure. Indeed, as far back as October press speculation was mounting that O'Neill had been sounded out about a possible vacancy.

Speaking to safc.com, O'Neill said "It's a very nice feeling to be back in football and to be the manager of Sunderland. It's a big moment for me.

"I'd heard about what a good club it was but coming here, seeing the stadium and training ground, I've been bowled over. It's absolutely fantastic.

"I hope I can help Sunderland to very successful period. That's what I've come for and that's my driving ambition."

O'Neill arrives on Wearside having never really been tainted by managerial failure during a long career, and his appointment will likely unite and galvanise a Sunderland fanbase that has grown increasingly fragmented over the last few years. There will be few genuinely dissenting voices and those that there are unlikely to linger if he can make the kind of impact that has tended to follow him round his whole career.

My own personal belief is that this is an appointment that just fits. What O'Neill can bring - unity, infectious passion and enthusiasm, and a track record of genuine pedigree to believe in - is precisely what the club needs at this time following Steve Bruce's tumultuous tenure.

It is one of the worst kept yet least reported secrets in football that Martin O'Neill grew up supporting Sunderland as his English team. Speaking to the Birmingham Mail in 2007, he spoke of his soft spot for the club before going on to regale the interviewer with many a memory of sitting at home in Northern Ireland listening to the lads on the radio.

"They're (Sunderland) my old team. I supported them as a kid and Charlie Hurley was my hero. That sparkle never leaves you."

As has been shown many a time, a little bit of sparkle can go a very long way in North East football. Lets hope the O'Neill era at Sunderland has been worth the wait.

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