VILLARREAL, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 02: ITV guests Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane (R) give their views before the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Villareal CF and Manchester City at El Madrigal on November 2, 2011 in Villarreal, Spain. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Martin O'Neill Takes The Reins At Sunderland

After firing Steve Bruce earlier in the week, Sunderland have announced that former Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill has been signed to a three year contract to manage the club.

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Martin O'Neill Announced As New Sunderland Manager

Days after sacking Steve Bruce, Sunderland AFC have announced the signing of his replacement: Martin O'Neill will take the reigns at the Stadium of Light. The former Aston Villa boss, who hasn't been in management since leaving Villa Park shortly before the 2010/11 season, has signed a three-year contract to guide the Black Cats, who'll be looking to the 59-year-old to guide them towards steady European qualification, much as he did with the midlands side during his four-year tenure there.

Here's the official tweet (yes, this is how things are announced these days):

#SAFC are delighted to announce the appointment of Martin O'Neill as manager on a three-year contract #MON
Dec 03 via webFavoriteRetweetReply

O'Neill's a great choice for a team that wants to cement their position as a strong top-half side, and he makes a lot of sense for Sunderland, who probably need a little bit of help to get over the hump and into Europe on a regular basis. He does come with downsides, but after their appalling start to the season, Sunderland fans probably aren't going to worry about him handing out a few bad contract over the next few years as long as he turns the on-field performances around.

For more on Sunderland and their new manager, check out Roker Report.

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Martin O'Neill Frontrunner For Sunderland Job

After sacking Steve Bruce, who had been with the team since 2009, Sunderland find themselves in need of a new manager. Their number one choice for the position, apparently, is former Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill, who could well be in place by this weekend if the club have their way. O'Neill, who hasn't managed since he left Villa shortly before the start of last season, has demonstrated that he can take a mid-table side into steady contention for the Europa League spots, which is the next big step up for Sunderland.

With the Guardian saying that the Black Cats are pushing all of their energy into securing O'Neill's signature, there doesn't appear to be room in the picture for Mark Hughes, who's been out of work ever since he stepped down as Fulham manager last summer. Although Hughes in many ways might have been a more sensible candidate for the job than O'Neill, he's been relegated to a clear second choice. Either way, however, Sunderland will have upgraded to a manager very capable of taking them to Europe. We'll just have to see what happens.

For more on all things Sunderland, check out the Roker Report.

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Steve Bruce Adequate, But It's Time For Sunderland To Get Better - Roker Report

On Wednesday, following a string of bad results, Sunderland AFC sacked manager Steve Bruce after a string of poor results. Bruce did well to get the Wearside club into the top half of the table last season, but recent results have been poor despite Bruce having a decent squad at his disposal. They sit in 16th place with two wins from 13 games, with a home loss to Wigan Athletic being the straw that broke the camel's back for the Sunderland board.

SB Nation's Sunderland blog Roker Report writes that Steve Bruce was a good hire when he was brought to the club, but that the Black Cats now deserve better.

For a long long time, Sunderland were seen as a yo-yo team. Niall Quinn and Roy Keane saw to it that we got into the Premier League and remained there (with a little help from Ricky Sbragia). A proven Premier League side.

Steve Bruce came in later as the best calibre of manager we could attract at the time to a team which was perennially near the darker end of the Premier League with aspirations of achieving more.

Bruce went on to take us to tenth. By hook or by crook, tenth is tenth, and a solid achievement. He brought in a much higher class of player, however it seems now that we're ready for the next logical step. Someone who can take us to the top ten once more, and keep us there consistently.

The next appointment could be a key one in our future, if we're to avoid regression. I hope Ellis Short knows what he's doing.

Sunderland are a much more financially secure and much more talented side than when Bruce came in. With their new hire, Sunderland will likely look to a manager with a history of leading clubs into the top half, not a manager who has done a lot with a little in the Championship and Premier League relegation battles.

For more on Bruce's firing and Sunderland AFC, check out SB Nation's Sunderland blog Roker Report.

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