Sunderland boss O’Neill sceptical over Euro 2012 moves

Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill
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MARTIN O’Neill will resist the temptation to pursue any of the one-hit wonders from this summer’s European Championships.

Sunderland landed one of the stand-out performers from the World Cup two years ago when Asamoah Gyan arrived at the Stadium of Light in a £13million deal.

Although then boss Steve Bruce had watched Gyan in domestic action for Rennes on several previous occasions, the Ghanaian made just 35 appearances for the Black Cats before moving to United Arab Emirates outfit Al-Ain last September.

Successor O’Neill (pictured) is keen to avoid recruits who only shine on the international stage and will take a cautious view on the stars in Poland and Ukraine.

The Sunderland manager told the Echo: “I’m not so sure that you should be buying players based on European Championships or World Cups.

“I did it once at Celtic and bought a lad called Joos Valgaeren, who actually turned out to be brilliant for us.

“There are one or two exceptions to everything, of course, and you can’t take it as a guaranteed rule.

“But, on principle, I wouldn’t do it because I’ve seen the players you get.

“I’d rather concentrate on what their league form is.

“Some people can really rise to the occasion in two or three matches where the pace of the game is totally different to the league.”

O’Neill insists that shouldn’t be taken as a sign that he will ignore the best players on the Continent, despite largely signing home-grown players at previous club Aston Villa.

The Black Cats boss went on a scouting mission to Europe a fortnight ago and is keen to dispel the myth that he only buys British.

“If I was only going to buy British players, then I wouldn’t go abroad to watch football matches,” said O’Neill.

Likewise, O’Neill has rejected the notion that he will wait until the final throws of the transfer window before landing his summer targets.

O’Neill is eager to have at least some of his new recruits on board by the time Sunderland get their Premier League campaign underway on August 18.

“People have always said I do my shopping late,” he added.

“But I would prefer to have the players in early if it’s possible, but sometimes you can’t do it.

“We could have an acquisition or two before the season starts, that’s very important and certainly I’d want them before the end of August.”

Sunderland stayed in 11th place in the Premier League last night, with Stoke unable to claim all three points against Everton which would have enabled them to climb above the Black Cats.

Fulham, who host Sunderland in Sunday’s penultimate match of the campaign, won 1-0 away to FA Cup finalists Liverpool, completing a first ever double against the Anfield men, to join the Reds on 49 points – four ahead of O’Neill’s side.