Sunderland owner Short still has faith in O’Neill

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill
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ELLIS SHORT continues to see Martin O’Neill as the best man to lead Sunderland, despite weekend reports linking Everton boss David Moyes with the Black Cats hot-seat.

Speculation yesterday suggested Moyes, whose contract at Goodison Park expires in the summer, could be a shock candidate to replace O’Neill, should the Sunderland manager leave the Stadium of Light at the end of the season.

But the Echo understands that Short has every faith that O’Neill is the right man to remain in charge of the Wearsiders, despite Sunderland’s increasingly precarious position in the relegation dogfight.

The American has understandably been concerned by Sunderland’s lack of progress after shelling out another £30million of his own money for O’Neill’s transfer kitty.

Short is also keen for some close scrutiny of the club’s scouting network at the end of the season after the incoming players over the last two years have failed to see Sunderland fulfil their objective of challenging in the top half.

But, crucially, Short continues to support O’Neill.

And although O’Neill has come under fire on several occasions this season, he has persistently stressed his eagerness to turn Sunderland around in the long-term.

O’Neill realises there is no quick-fix to improve Sunderland’s results consistently and, crucially, he is keen to stamp his own mark on the side.

Over recent weeks, O’Neill has stressed the importance of Sunderland making significant reinforcements in the summer, too, and he is expected to conduct a widespread overhaul of the playing squad.

Although Short is subjecting his investment to increasing scrutiny, Sunderland will be blessed by a share of more than £5billion – a minimum £60m – in the new Premier League TV deal, should they manage to avoid the drop.

Moyes is unlikely to swap Merseyside for Wearside either, despite the uncertainty over his long-term future at Goodison.

The likes of Chelsea and potentially Manchester City could be interested in the Scot, who has been in charge of the Toffees for the last 11 years after a previous, successful stint at Preston.

Meanwhile, Sunderland have again been linked with a move for O’Neill’s former Celtic winger Aiden McGeady.

Sunderland have been credited with an interest in the Spartak Moscow wideman ever since O’Neill took charge at the Stadium of Light and they were in the running last summer, only to balk at the Russian club’s £10m asking price.

But McGeady saw a £5m move to Wigan fall through in January and he is expected to leave Moscow in the summer, with his contract expiring 12 months later.