Premier League’s Sunderland have run themselves into a bit of trouble, dangling by a fine thread over the three relegation spots at the bottom of the table, with a challenging few weeks ahead of them that include table-toppers Manchester United and Manchester City.
With a sound 3-0 victory on Tuesday evening against Reading, this thread was strengthened slightly, pulling them out of the relegation zone they entered following their 3-2 loss to Chelsea on the weekend.
But as is the case in sports, someone has to lose, and when the losses outweigh the wins, all heads turn and fingers point to management with Sunderland’s Martin O’Neill in the spotlight, having to talk his way out of why his team has produced such underwhelming results. Historically, for a coach that’s won only 3 games out of a possible 24, it’s accepted without a flinch that the manager will get the axe, the most recent, and ridiculous, being former Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo who somewhat remarkably got the boot despite winning a Champions League and FA Cup title.
While Roman Ibrahimovich’s impatience saw Matteo’s swift exit, O’Neill’s fate lies in the hands of a much more practical owner. Ellis Short has expressed he has no intention of giving O’Neill the flick, believing him to have done a good job last season that has continued into the current. Shorts’ support doesn’t stop there, getting behind O’Neill following the Reading victory, “He gives all the players a lot of confidence to go out and play and even in awkward situations we can do that. All the lads were confident stepping out onto the pitch and that’s the main thing when you are in that position. We were very confident we were going to win”.
Football lives in such a vacillating environment that runs on a defective system built on the puffed up “money equals victory” equation. This equation has long since been contradicted and justified simultaneously – it’s not remotely out of the ordinary to hear of strikers being paid exorbitant contracts but who are struggling to put away goals, other players being paid half as much to score twice as many.
…rally behind him…
It’s refreshing to see a coach get his club, management, players and fans alike, rally behind him and find an achievable medium between results and reality, something that is often overlooked in this faulty football equation.