O’Neill: No talks over Sunderland budget

Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill
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MARTIN O’NEILL insists his desire to become Sunderland manager overrode any discussions over his spending power.

O’Neill arrives on Wearside with a reputation – which he feels is undeserved – for splashing the cash in the transfer market after his four-year spell at Aston Villa.

Given Sunderland’s lack of firepower has been the chief reason behind their struggles this season, O’Neill’s arrival was expected to spark attacking reinforcements in the January transfer window.

But the new Sunderland boss says the issue of his transfer budget wasn’t raised during discussions with owner Ellis Short prior to agreeing a three-year deal at the Stadium of Light.

“I had discussions with the owner of the football club, they weren’t very long and that (transfer funds) was never discussed,” said O’Neill.

“I haven’t had any guarantees about funds and nor did I ask for any guarantees.

“Are people surprised at that? I wanted to take the job.

“Listen, I’m sure at some stage or another we may well discuss it, but it wasn’t a major point.”

O’Neill spent big during his four years at Villa Park, splashing out significant fees on the likes of Ashley Young, Stewart Downing, Curtis Davies and Carlos Cuellar.

But the 59-year-old enjoyed success on a more restrictive budget during his previous spells at Wycombe, Leicester and Celtic.

He added: “This idea (about his spending) seems to have emanated from (my time at) Aston Villa.

“But it’s just not true.

“I’ve managed other football clubs where there has been no money at all, or, certainly comparatively, no money, and it hasn’t bothered me.

“You earn the right to be able to go and compete in the transfer market and that’s what I will be hoping to try to do.”

While no figures have been discussed between O’Neill and Short, that will not necessarily mean Sunderland are inactive next month.

Short has seen first-hand how Sunderland have struggled for goals this season, although the return to fitness of Connor Wickham and Fraizer Campbell – possibly for the busy Christmas period – will boost O’Neill’s attacking options.

But given that Sunderland are a striker down following Asamoah Gyan’s exit after the August transfer deadline, there is likely to be some room for manoeuvre for the new Black Cats boss.