O’Neill replaces ousted Bruce at Stadium of Light

[caption id="attachment_68302" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Martin O’Neill is taking over at Sunderland."]


There was much talk in recent weeks about managerial stability in the English Premier League and for a while it looked like we might get to Christmas without a manager being sacked. In the end, we did get to the last day of November, when Sunderland parted company with Steve Bruce. Martin O’Neill, who has been out of work since leaving Aston Villa just before the start of last season, has now taken over at the Stadium of Light from Bruce. On Sunday the 59-year-old Derryman saw his new club lose 2-1 away to Mick McCarthy’s Wolves.

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No change at the top of the Premier League with Manchester City maintaining their five-point lead over neighbours Manchester United. City beat Norwich 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium, while United kept in touch with a 1-0 away win over Aston Villa. Villa’s Irish ‘keeper Shay Given pulled a hamstring as he raced out of his goal to clear the ball and was substituted on 37 minutes. City are scoring more freely and they have now scored 48 goals, compared to United’s 31. Also City and United have been paired together in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, which will be played on the first weekend of January. Last season City beat United at the semifinal stage and went on to win the Cup for first time since 1969.

Spurs stay in third place in the league after a 3-0 home win over Bolton and fourth placed Chelsea won 3-0 at Newcastle to push the Geordies down the table. Arsenal’s recent good form continued and the Gunners moved into 5th place following a 4-0 away win over a very poor Wigan side. Benin striker Yakubu took some pressure off his manager Steve Kean when he scored all four goals in Blackburn’s 4-2 win over Swansea. The win lifted Rovers off the foot of the table. Yakubu is only the fifth player in the Premier League history to score a hat-trick for three different clubs. For the stats lovers among you the other four were: Teddy Sheringham, Nicolas Anelka, Kevin Campbell and Les Ferdinand.

No change either at the top of the Scottish Premier League where Celtic are still four points behind Rangers after both clubs won at the weekend. Meanwhile in his first game in charge of Scottish club Hibernian Dubliner Pat Fenlon saw his new club go 1-0 up against Motherwell, but the game was abandoned at half-time due to a fire in the floodlight system.

Death of Sócrates

The death occurred on Sunday at the age of 57 of former Brazilian superstar Sócrates. He has been suffering from an intestinal infection. He was captain in the 1982 World Cup of his national side, which is often cited, alongside the Hungarians in 1954 and the Dutch in 1974, as one of the three greatest teams not to win soccer’s most coveted honor. Brazil were felled in a shock 2-3 defeat to eventual winners Italy. Paolo Rossi got a famous hat-trick on that occasion for a team that also starred Marco Tardelli, Ireland’s current assistant manager, who like Rossi scored in the final against West Germany.

There had been stories doing the rounds in Ireland in recent years that Socrates had played for UCD while studying medicine, but it was an urban myth apparently. Dr. Sócrates denied that he had never studied in Dublin.