Axed Sunderland boss O'Neill eyes speedy return to management

The 61-year-old former Sunderland manager dismissed suggestions that he was too old for top-flight management and cited Sir Alex Ferguson and Roy Hodgson as proof
Ex-Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill has rejected the notions that he is too old and his coaching methods too dated for top-flight management and hopes to secure a new job swiftly.

The 61-year-old was sacked by the Black Cats in March after eight games without a win, while his controversial replacement, Paolo Di Canio, will take charge of the team for the first time against Chelsea on Sunday.

But the Northern Irishman is adamant that he is not past his use-by date and has offered the examples of Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson and England manager Roy Hodgson as proof that there is no substitute for experience.

"I’ve got the same drive and determination as when I started as a manager and I wouldn't want to leave football in this manner," O'Neill told BBC.

"This situation is certainly a disappointment to me, no doubt, but football is what I do and I want to get back in.

"Everybody has a shelf-life, but it doesn't depend on age. You look at Alex Ferguson and he is the oldest dinosaur in the game, but he is also the best manager. He is 71 years of age and he's gone with the times.

"England turned to Roy Hodgson due to his vast experience, QPR turned to Harry Redknapp for the same reason and I would think that my record in the game means I still have something to offer, without any doubt."

He then went on to defend his Sunderland transfer record, including roughly £30 million spent on the acquisitions of Steven Fletcher, Adam Johnson and Danny Graham.

"In the summer time when we had to try to change things around, there were a number of players who left the football club so numerically we were down," O'Neill continued.

"We signed two players for money at that time. You'd have to say that Steven Fletcher has been a big success. He's done exceptionally well and scored the goals for us and Adam Johnson...just about every football club wanted to sign him at that stage.

"Adam has had a really frustrating time and he should have done better but he has had a lot to cope with, but this idea that the two players on their own were going to change the fortunes of the football club? I think you might have to make more changes than that to do it.

"In January, we signed Danny Graham and Alfred N'Diaye and with those two you would probably have to wait a little while before making assessments on that."