Take one Northern Irish manager, add a passionate football club in the North East of England, and give it an absolutely massive kick up the proverbial. It's an equation for success, as proven with a monumental climb up the table. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Martin O'Neill effect.
When O'Neill took over from Steve Bruce in early December, Sunderland were sat 16th in the table, after just two league wins in the previous ten games. Since he took the reigns, they've earned twenty-two points from eleven games - with defeats coming from just Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal. They're now in 9th place, and just ten points from a European spot. It doesn't sound possible, but with the way this season is panning out, it really could happen.
Counter in the incredible FA Cup run O'Neill has taken Sunderland on. Beating Peterborough in the third round. Winning the fourth round replay against Middlesbrough. Followed up by a stunning victory against Arsenal this weekend in the fifth round, teeing up a game away to Everton. It honestly wouldn't surprise me if Martin can guide his team, high on morale, to Wembley this season.
There's a buzz around the Stadium of Light since O'Neill has arrived. The emergence of James McClean, alongside the tremendous form of Stephane Sessegnon and Seb Larsson has made everyone take note of the brilliance of O'Neill, his tactics and the mentality he's given the club.
So what are your views? Is he an Arsenal manager-in-waiting? Or is this a long-term appointment that will propel Sunderland into the top six?
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