Sunderland legend Charlie Hurley: Players were to blame, not O’Neill

Charlie Hurley
Charlie Hurley
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BLACK Cats legend Charlie Hurley is in no doubt about where the blame lies for the failure of Martin O’Neill’s reign at the Stadium of Light.

“It is players that get you the sack, not fans,” said the man O’Neill has credited for sparking his lifelong love for Sunderland.

“I think there may be one or two players who have let him down.”

The club’s Player of the Century is full of praise for O’Neill and believes he should have been given time to finish the job he started at the Stadium Of Light.

“It is very, very sad. Martin is a very genuine person and he has worked his tail off at Sunderland.

“I am very disappointed – I think the club should have given him at least another four or five weeks. I do believe they have got it wrong. I think they should have given him the opportunity.”

When he was a boy, O’Neill was a devoted Sunderland and Celtic fan. His favourite player was Sunderland’s then-captain and centre half, Hurley.

But Charlie also accepts that for chairman Ellis Short, preserving the club’s top-flight status must come before anything else.

“You have got to stay in the Premier League – there is only one league to be in, and that is the Premier League,” he said.

“That is what the fans love to see, you get some fabulous teams coming to play, the Manchester Uniteds and the Arsenals. The Premier League is a different world.

“At the moment, it is winning that is so, so important. To see them heading towards the Championship is a real sickener.”