Martin’s Musings on keeping to script against Manchester United: time for reflection

Last game of the season so Martin O’Neill’s last post-match e-mail to Salut! Sunderland (and a few others). As I awaited its arrival, I thought about what I’d like to find in it: relief that the season’s over, unbridled optimism for the next one, a hint of contrition? Would we have settled for 13th top when Steve Bruce left us in something closely resembling a shambles last November? Maybe. But the MON-inspired revival raised hopes, admittedly too high given what he inherited and had to make do with, and it is difficult for this Sunderland fan – who, incidentally, feels a little sympathy for the United fans, though this rare experience of failure may prove character building – to escape the flattest of feelings tonight. Then the e-mail dropped and this is what the boss had to say …


Dear Colin,

Coming into the game, even though it was at home, we were almost the sideshow.

We had a spell in the game where we could have equalised just before half time, but overall it was a tough afternoon for us.

Simon Mignolet made some great saves for us. We just lack a cutting edge, but overall it’s been a really great effort by the players.

In the next couple of weeks we’ll have time to reflect and time to consider a lot of things.

Overall I’m delighted because naturally I was concerned back in December whether we’d still be in this league.

Jake.'s finale

It’s been a big effort by the players and a big effort by the supporters.

The day was full of drama. Manchester United looked to have won the championship, but suddenly there was news breaking through of the goals at the Etihad Stadium.

It was amazing to be part of it – surreal, really.

Maybe one day we will have something to celebrate on the final day of the season.

On a personal note I would like to say thank you to all the supporters for their backing this season. You have been magnificent and that support is very much appreciated by everyone.

All the best,

Martin O’Neill



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11 thoughts on “Martin’s Musings on keeping to script against Manchester United: time for reflection”

  1. Said a while ago that 50 points would have been satisfactory, but our team fell short of that. The shortfall was inevitable given the teams poor level of performance over the last two months. Still, as I also said before, judgement should be delayed till the end of next season at the earliest. A question I posed over a pint to a few mates. We have played Everton 4 times this year and are probably the benchmark of a solid, established Premier league side. How many of our team would get into theirs. Not many if the reaction of me and my mates is anything to go by. That is the task ahead of MO as he tries to improve SAFC.

  2. If ever we needed a season to end it was this one. The lack of effort, quality and moral that seems to have been drained from the players was starting to spread into the stands. I think this bad run has probably been a blessing in disguise as O’Neill is now under no doubt which players were performing above themselves during his initial morale boosting impact. Hopefully no passengers will make the cut next season and the quicker we get that centre forward the better. Looking forward to a refreshed Martin O’Neill side next season, onwards and upwards!!

  3. It is bizarre feeling this down after all the turmoil, relegations, false dawns we’ve known. I didn’t want to be too critical but did expect rather more than appeared in the email. So we may now lose Sess, if reports are right. Apart from McClean, Colback and maybe O Shea and Brown, who would really be missed, especially after the way they collectively went on holiday, a real insult to the fans, from some time in March? Cannot even be bothered to give this posting a 1-5 grading (look at how it appears on the home page and you will see what I mean)

  4. I agree with all you say-I have faith in O’Neill and am confident in his ability and very much appreciate what he has done already. I think I felt after reading his piece and its tone, I felt a little anxious about his future with us-probably paranoid after 50years of ups and downs.

  5. I’m perplexed by Hilary’s perplexion (is it a word? it is now!).
    It was obvious that the increase in performance that followed the arrival of O’Neill could not be sustained until the end of the season: these were largely average players who had suddenly been given a game plan and a focus that the previous management had been incapable of. That clarity of direction and focus gave the team impetus and energy, but energy cannot last forever and sooner or later a team must also come to rely on a level of skill and ability and pace, things too many of our squad lack. I was more perplexed by how long O’Neill managed to keep the momentum going, not that eventually petered out.
    As a manager O’Neill will be acutely aware that the conversations with Short will decide the actions for next season, it would therfore be foolish of him to talk specifically about plans and players that may then become impossible to achieve or attain.
    I have faith in O’Neill: faith that he is more than capable of achieving success; faith that he knows who he wants and how he will want them to play and faith that he is almost as keen as we are to bring success to SAFC.

  6. You are right Tom, MON is probably worn out and ready for a break before regrouping. He has done what he needed to do and has done very well given the morale and state of the team when he arrived. I look forward to next season

  7. On the bright side, we now have a manager who knows how to win, and is disappointed to lose any game. I am encouraged to see MON musing about better future finales for SAFC, but at the same time I can understand that the man must be exhausted today.

    Having established a set of tactics for the current team to at least survive this season, tomorrow will be the start of building for his first full campaign as Sunderland’s manager.

    I am sure there will be talk of the major rebuilding job that lies ahead, so major that it will be unattainable with the available resources. However, I believe this manager knows what he needs, and will therefore get it.

    This team’s form was in the top 6 for several months earlier in the year and with 3 or 4 good quality additions will be very competitive next season under this manager.

    A final word of congratulations to Jack Colback who was the best midfielder on show today and continues to grow in stature.

  8. It has been a disappointing few weeks and a disappointing game today. We ran out of steam a while ago and there has been little to remind us of the flurry of good results that we got after MON’s arrival. I think some players had been playing beyond themselves and are probably played out-but things are very flat.

    There is something about Martin’s piece that disturbs me in a way. It maybe I am reading too much into it , but there is no anticipation of next season and what we might do. He talks about things having to be decided in the next two weeks but nothing beyond that but a vague indication that we might win something some day. I am a bit perplexed.

    • I think O’Neill likes to downplay things, good news for us is he’s never been that great in his first season and thank god it’s over. I’ve felt more perplexed about the last few weeks and have felt no excitement for next season; Hopefully a few decent signings will change that.

  9. Disappointing end to the season. We’ve dropped 3 places from last season’s 10th after looking good for 8th. We’ve also finished behind 2 of last season’s promoted teams and only finished 2 points above Wigan, who were being touted all season long as relegation certainties. Major surgery required I think. Oh, and I didn’t win a mug!

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