Martin O'Neill perfect for Sunderland - Alan Hansen

Martin O'Neill
O'Neill has a great track record

Martin O'Neill's appointment as Sunderland manager is a real coup for chairman Ellis Short. He is the perfect choice to revitalise a huge club in a passionate football area.

There are certain managers who, when they are not in a job, have the track record that ensures they will be linked with big vacancies and Martin falls right into that category because of his previous work.

Like Sam Allardyce when he was out of management, he will always be in demand and this is why Sunderland have done so well to persuade him that the Stadium of Light is the place for him to resume his career after leaving Aston Villa just before the start of last season.

Sunderland is also a really good job for Martin, because they have great support and the potential to be even bigger should he get it right. This is what will have appealed to him - and it is very easy to see why Martin appealed to Sunderland's board after the departure of Steve Bruce.

He has always been reluctant to take just any job, so it is a sign of his belief in what can be done at Sunderland that he has chosen to go there.

The good news for Martin is that Sunderland, despite only two wins from 13 Premier League games, have not been playing dreadfully. They just cannot buy a goal at the moment and this means, as against Wigan last week, that winning positions can so easily become losing ones.

Martin, even though he has been out of the game, will have kept his finger on the pulse and will know what is required. He is a charismatic guy who will go straight in and lift the fans. Gloom and doom will be instantly replaced by optimism.

I have worked with Martin in television and know him as a very, very funny engaging guy who is great company with views on plenty of subjects. And a sign of how highly I rate him as a manager is that in previous years, when Liverpool had a managerial vacancy, I would have been perfectly happy to see him at Anfield.

He is a big personality who will attract big players and has a track record of making good signings, improving teams and getting the best out of what he has, which is the very essence of good management.

Supporters may see him as this frenetic figure on the touchline, but I can assure you he is incredibly thoughtful about his football. He will explore every avenue open to him to get Sunderland up the table.

He will certainly need to address Sunderland's lack of goals and this is where Bruce, who is also a very good manager, was desperately unlucky. If Darren Bent had stayed at Sunderland I do not think there is any question things would have turned out differently for him, such are the fine margins of success and failure in football.

Martin's task is to find those goals and, while nothing is ever guaranteed in football, I do not ever envisage one of his teams being stuck in the relegation zone. His first job will be to steady the ship and move them away from that position.

If you supported a team managed by Martin O'Neill you would not have the feeling you were going to struggle. You would feel reassured that he was in charge and I am sure Sunderland's fans will be delighted he is there.

When you give Martin the job there is a sense that everything will be taken care of and both supporters and board can trust him to do the right thing. If he gets a bit of money to spend in January and works with what he has, then I do not see Sunderland being in the bottom six.

Martin, like so many people in football, is very single-minded about what he wants. If there is a touch of the Brian Clough about him, it comes in the great manager's old saying: "If a player thinks I'm wrong we'll talk about it for 20 minutes then decide I was right all along."

He has strong views about what he wants - and while not everyone will agree with him, that single-mindedness can be a real quality in a manager.

He may not automatically go for the most flamboyant brand of football but his teams always have an element of control and structure. Martin is intelligent enough to assess his squad and find a pattern of play that suits what he has.

This is not to say his teams do not play good football, but his approach is very professional and he will apply the same strong principles at Sunderland that he always has.

I think Sunderland chairman Short and all the supporters on Wearside can be delighted about Martin O'Neill's arrival. During the course of a season many high-profile jobs can come up and you could bank on him being linked with every one, such is his standing in the game.

Sunderland have demonstrated to him that they are the sort of club where he can really achieve things.

Alan Hansen was talking to BBC Sport's chief football writer Phil McNulty

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