MARTIN O’NEILL has learned from some of the best managers in the game - and plans to put their ideas into action at Sunderland, writes Matt Leslie.
MARTIN O’Neill is keeping his man-management philosophy as simple as possible as he continues with his task of turning the Wearsiders’ fortunes around.
Given the upbeat reaction to the Ulsterman’s appointment, it would be fair to say O’Neill knows a thing or two about this management lark.
Success at Leicester and Celtic – which in the latter case included a Uefa Cup final appearance – as well as getting Aston Villa to again punch above their weight, ensured he was usually top of everyone’s hot-list when a managerial vacancy at the top level cropped up.
O’Neill, of course, had an excellent teacher in the school of management in Brian Clough who had the young midfielder O’Neill within his ranks at Nottingham Forest.
Other prominent tutors have figured in O’Neill’s footballing education, such as Jimmy McAlinden who discovered him at Distillery, and one of his bosses when playing for Northern Ireland, Billy Bingham, who guided the Ulstermen with O’Neill as his captain to the quarter-final group stages of the 1982 World Cup.
O’Neill has no doubt picked up plenty from them but he has also worked under a host of other managers with variable results.
While the good points have been digested, the bad ones have also been taken on board.
Simplicity when communicating to your players is for O’Neill a key component of management, as he knows full well from personal experience.
He said: “I have had managers who have had elongated training sessions and you think to yourself, ‘this is never going to end’. It is so long it is Easter now.
“Other managers have kept it short and sharp and kept concentration.
“My concentration span as a player was about four seconds. I like it short and if you are doing decent work in that time, it is fine.
“It is different in pre-season when you have to put serious work in.
“It is hard to gauge the fitness of a team, especially when you have just arrived and others have left.
“I don’t like it when you hear players saying we did not do enough fitness work – they are usually the laziest ones.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s fixture at Tottenham Hotspur, O’Neill believes midfielder Lee Cattermole still has a role to play at the club – even in his current position as team captain.
Although he was speaking prior to the news of Cattermole and Nicklas Bendtner’s arrest on suspicion of causing criminal damage, O’Neill spoke about the Cattermole he has got to know since taking charge.