Belfast Telegraph

Steven Beacom: Martin O'Neill can take care of unfinished business

It was no real surprise when Martin O'Neill recently turned down the opportunity to manage Northern Ireland.

The main reason was that he had unfinished business with the Premier League.

Now with Sunderland searching for a new boss, 59-year-old O'Neill is being lined up for what is likely to be his one last crack at bringing success to an underperforming club.

He's been down this road before.

Leicester. Success. Check.

Celtic. Success. Check.

Aston Villa. Success. Check.

O'Neill may not have brought trophies to Villa, like he did at Leicester and Celtic, but he led them to THREE sixth place finishes in a row in the top flight, which was as impressive as winning silverware.

Last summer he stunned the football world by leaving the midlands club just days before the season was due to start, apparently unhappy with a lack of funds.

Since then the game has missed Martin and Martin has missed the game.

He enjoys giving his views on television, as he has done expertly alongside the equally watchable Roy Keane for ITV lately, but it's only a quick fix.

O'Neill is a man who loves the challenge of taking on the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Roberto Mancini and Kenny Dalglish.

Football is in his blood. It has been ever since he supported Sunderland as a kid.

The Black Cats are in a pitiful state, lying near the bottom of the Premier League table, looking enviously up at high flying local rivals Newcastle, who are having a fantastic season.

Sunderland need inspiration and they will find it in O'Neill, who I hope, beats Mark Hughes to the job. He'll motivate the players and the fans and like just about every club he's been to, leave them in a better place than he found them.

It'll be great to see him back.

Belfast Telegraph

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