SUNDERLAND have publicly moved to quell internet rumours that Martin O’Neill has quit or offered to resign, writes GRAEME ANDERSON.
Although the club has not issued an official statement, it could not have been more firm privately in dismissing suggestions that the Irishman has looked to end his stay at the Stadium of Light just short of the first anniversary of his appointment.
The Black Cats’ poor form over the second half of O’Neill’s year in charge – the Wearsiders have won just two of their last 20 league games – has naturally fuelled speculation about his position.
And with no signs that owner and chairman Ellis Short has lost any faith in the man who was the virtually universal choice among fans to succeed Steve Bruce, gossip has gone in the other direction – that O’Neill himself has looked for a way out.
There have been claims of a possible move to former club Celtic in the New Year, of family illness unsettling the manager and even of the manager deciding he wants to leave.
But none of them have any basis in truth whatsoever and the club remains absolutely firm in its stance that O’Neill – who signed a three-year contract last December – is the manager for the forseeable future and has the full backing of those above him.
The club will not speak publicly on the subject because it believes doing so would only help justify and add further fuel to what they see as scurrilous rumours.
And O’Neill himself has been clear to the Echo about his enthusiasm for the Sunderland job and his absolute determination to improve the Black Cats over the course of his contract.