Black Cats revel in O'Neill revolution
I totally agree with the sentiments expressed in the excellent letter 'O'Neill restores Sunderland mojo' by Mark Lawler [Jan 8]. The letter attracted over 2,400 hits on the popular Sunderland AFC Ready to Go message board and I'm sure 99.9% of SAFC fans agree with the views of Mr Lawler.
As he says, Sunderland were a stuttering, non-performing team under Steve Bruce yet Martin O'Neill, without adding players to the squad, through his infectious enthusiasm, man management skills and tactical know-how, has managed to galvanise a group of players into the team and he has totally transformed things. Sunderland travelled to an in-form, high-scoring Peterborough side in a potentially difficult FA Cup tie and produced a solid display and thoroughly deserved to come away with the 2-0 victory. SAFC's last three previous cup results under the leadership of Steve Bruce were home defeats to West Ham and Notts County together with an away defeat at Brighton.
Mark Lawler makes the comparison between one of the true managerial football greats in Brian Clough and Martin O'Neill and I can see where he is coming from. I remember how the Derryman was able to motivate a Leicester City side with no massive stars in it to regular top-ten finishes and take them to three League Cup finals, two of which they won. Similarly, who could forget that thrilling 2002/2003 UEFA Cup run where Celtic under the guidance of O'Neill went on a thrilling campaign where they knocked out Liverpool, Blackburn, Stuggart, Boavista and Celta Vigo and were very unlucky to lose in the final to FC Porto (who won the Champions League the next season) to a silver goal. Getting Aston Villa to three sixth-place finishes in the English Premiership is also no mean achievement.
A good example of how he has changed things has been his brave decision to give fellow Derryman James McClean his chance and the former Derry City player has taken the opportunity. McClean is now an outside bet to make the Ireland squad for the European Championships in Poland.
While it's still early days Martin O'Neill has lifted SAFC fans everywhere and we are now optimistic about what the future has in store and feel we have the right man in charge to help us achieve our ambitions.
FIFA sells its soul for corporate buck
In a week that a mother has petitioned the House of Commons to debate the death of her son at Hillsborough stadium in 1989, my stomach revolted with disgust when I read the comments of FIFA's general secretary Jerome Valcke.
This is what Valcke said: "Alcoholic drinks are part of the FIFA World Cup, so we are going to have them. Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that's something we won't negotiate".
Brazil, the host country in 2014, has successfully banned beer at matches since 2003 in the interests of fans and safety.
Valcke and the big business corps that actually run FIFA are a disgrace. From the butcher's apprentices in Sheffield who used their half day to kick a ball, thus becoming one of England's great names, to Celtic, who started out as a facility to aid the Irish poor in Glasgow, how dare Blatter and Co thieve the great game?
Read his words again. This man will usurp the laws of a nation on behalf of a beer company.
Sport is thieved by the corporate. The noble and historic Lansdowne Road is now called after a company that consigned 900 of its Irish workers to the scrapheap. Pretty soon all that was noble in sport will be tarnished and infected.
Would you allow some business or group to steal Santa and what it means to your child? Would you allow soccer and sport to be thieved by charlatans that couldn't get their heads into the political trough but found a better swill bin to feed out of?
Too late, they have stolen the game long ago. Watch out Santa, you are next.
A man of humility and common sense
It is with deep sadness I write regarding the death of your Editor, Aengus Fanning. He was a man of tremendous humility, humour and, most of all, common sense.
My condolences to all his colleagues.
Fond memories of Swindon's triumph
Declan Drake's letter about Swindon Town [Jan 15] brought back glorious memories of their winning the League Cup in 1969 when, as a Third Division team, they defeated Arsenal in the final.
Dan Rogers was their Lionel Messi and the star of the final. I will never forget some of their other players, particularly John Trollope, Stan Harland, Joe Butler and Peter Noble.
Sunday Indo Sport