Light goes out on Bruce’s Sunderland reign, Martin O’Neill inevitably favourite

Steve Bruce, arguably the last of the “old school” football managers in the Premier League, became the first manager in the top flight to pick up his P45 yesterday, as the Sunderland suits pointed him to the door marked with a big exit sign.

Light goes out on Bruce’s Sunderland reign, Martin O’Neill inevitably favourite

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December 1st, 2011

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Just two wins all season and 11 points this season were not enough to keep Bruce in the Sunderland hot-seat, ending a two and a half year tenure at the Stadium of Light.

A manager who seemed to stick rigidly to the largely out-dated 442 system and named the ill-disciplined Lee Cattermole as his captain, it was perhaps a testament to Bruce’s tactical nous that his tenure that saw him bring in 30 players since his arrival in 2009, some of whom, including the likes of Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan were subsequently moved on. In total, before you consider loan deals, close to £72m of talent was brought in by Bruce and £66m of talent farmed out – that’s a huge turnover by anybody’s standards.

So who to replace Bruce? Well, rule #1 of the “Bookmakers Guide to Next Manager Markets” is to make Martin O’Neill the favourite for the job, and the best that you’ll get on him is 10/11 with Bodog. Also towards the top of the list is former Fulham boss Mark Hughes, who is 7/4 with Hills, Stan James and Boylesports. At a club were the previous manager and much of the squad has “former Manchester United” as a pre-fix, it stands to reason that the new manager should do too.

It seems to be a two-horse race however, with the similarly out-of-work Rafa Benitez way back at 14/1 with Bodog, although Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is attracting some interest, with the former Manchester United favourite anywhere between 10s and 16s after his league success with Molde in Norway.

Eric Black, who will take caretaker charge for Sunday’s clash with Wigan, is 25/1 to get the job permanently, with similar prices available on Gus Poyet, currently at Brighton, Ian Holloway and Huddersfield boss Lee Clark.

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