• Premier League

O'Neill seeking immediate return

ESPN staff
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Martin O'Neill has also defended his transfer policy at the Stadium of Light © Getty Images
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Martin O'Neill has hit back at suggestions that he is a managerial dinosaur and insists he is desperate to get back into the game following his sacking from Sunderland.

O'Neill has launched a passionate defence of his managerial record and claims he has plenty of ambition to return to the game and add to the successes he enjoyed as Leicester and Celtic manager.

"I've got the same drive and determination as when I started as a manager and I wouldn't want to leave football in this manner," O'Neill told the BBC. "This situation is certainly a disappointment to me no doubt, but football is what I do and I want to get back in.

"Everybody has a shelf-life, but it doesn't depend on age. You look at Alex Ferguson and he is the oldest dinosaur in the game, but he is also the best manager. He is 71 years of age and he's gone with the times.

"England turned to Roy Hodgson due to his vast experience, QPR turned to Harry Redknapp for the same reason and I would think that my record in the game means I still have something to offer, without any doubt."

O'Neill refused to get drawn into the furore over Sunderland's decision to replace him with Paolo Di Canio, after the contentious political views of the Italian sparked a storm of protest in the last week.

"I've never met him and it's got nothing to do with me," O'Neill said. "I've got nothing to say about that, that is a part of Sunderland's future now and that's Sunderland's prerogative to do what they want.

"I think he mentioned that he expects to keep Sunderland up in the division and that's fine. That's what he expects and he thinks he'll be able to do it, and that's why he's been brought in."

The Irishman concluded by defending his transfer record at Sunderland, with the likes of Steven Fletcher, Adam Johnson and Danny Graham costing around £30 million to sign and not delivering the consistency of performance that might have been expected.

"In the summer time when we had to try to change things around, there were number a players who left the football club so numerically we were down," O'Neill said.

"We signed two players for money at that time. You'd have to say that Steven Fletcher has been a big success. He's done exceptionally well and scored the goals for us and Adam Johnson, just about every football club want to sign him at that stage.

"Adam has had a really frustrating time and he should have done better but he has had a lot to cope with, but this idea that the two players on their own were going to change the fortunes of the football club? I think you might have to make more changes than that to do it.

"In January, we signed Danny Graham and Alfred N'Diaye and with those two you would probably have to wait a little while before making assessments on that."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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