Football: Lambert shocked by O'Neill sacking

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert admitted on Sunday that he was astonished to learn that his former Celtic mentor Martin O'Neill had been sacked by Sunderland.

O'Neill was dismissed by Sunderland's American owner Ellis Short on Saturday night, shortly after a 1-0 defeat at home to Premier League leaders Manchester United.

The result extended Sunderland's run of games without victory to eight and left the north-east side just a point above the relegation zone with seven games of the season remaining.

Lambert captained Celtic during O'Neill's glittering five-year tenure at Celtic Park and the Villa manager said he had been taken aback by the 61-year-old's dismissal.

Speaking after Villa's 2-1 loss to Liverpool, Lambert told Sky Sports: "I couldn't believe it, to be honest.

"I saw it late last night and I couldn't believe what had happened there."

O'Neill's dismissal was greeted with surprise and anger by media pundits and former colleagues.

Former Crystal Palace and Reading manager Steve Coppell pointed the finger at the short-term approach adopted by club owners in the English top flight.

"For me, I can only think there was a personal confrontation after the game as Martin, in his interviews after the game, looked calm, collected and inspired for the challenge ahead," Coppell told BBC Radio Five Live.

"We are in the realms, I'm afraid, of spoilt-brat reactions because it is their (the owner's) toy.

"They don't understand the history and heritage of British football. There are so many foreign owners. I have nothing against that, but there is a way of doing things in English football that has now gone out of the window."

Former England striker Alan Shearer said he was surprised by the timing of O'Neill's departure.

"It's bizarre. They have gone down the route that Reading have (sacking Brian McDermott)," he said on BBC television programme Match of the Day.

"They are on a terrible run of form but it is the timing of it I find hard."

Stan Collymore, who played under O'Neill as a striker at Leicester City, said the Northern Irishman may have struggled without his former assistant John Robertson, with whom he had worked at his previous clubs.

"John Robertson was the conduit between player and manager," Collymore told talkSPORT radio station.

"He would watch training, perhaps go in a couple of times to see the manager, who probably wouldn't even come out until the last 10, 15 minutes of the session, where everything got much livelier.

"Because it was unusual for the gaffer (manager) to come out and oversee training - like Sir Alex Ferguson or like David Moyes - and what John Robertson would do would be to report back.

"Who's looking sharp, who's not looking so sharp, and I think in terms of this season, Martin O'Neill just hasn't looked himself.

"He hasn't had that sounding board with John Robertson."

One-time England manager Steve McClaren has been installed as the early favourite to succeed O'Neill at the Stadium of Light, with former Swindon Town coach Paolo Di Canio also reported to be in the running.

Sunderland are expected to make an announcement about the vacancy prior to their trip to Chelsea next Sunday.

  • Popular hot yoga myths debunked 5 hours ago
    Popular hot yoga myths debunked

    What’s the hottest new workout taking the world by storm? That would be hot yoga, also known as Bikram yoga. Conducted in a heated room with sweltering temperatures of about 40°C (or approximately 104° Fahrenheit) and 40 per cent humidity, … Continue reading →

  • Thursday #sgroundup: Body found of boy who made first call from Korea ferry: report 5 hours ago
    Thursday #sgroundup: Body found of boy who made first call from Korea ferry: report

    Here are today’s top trending stories in case you missed them.

  • Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day 17 hours ago
    Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day

    If there's one car that's particularly sought-after among today's well-heeled car collectors, a Ferrari 250 would be it. Usually it's the GTO variant, like the 1963 that sold for a record $52 million last year. A 250 of any sorts demands unfathomable cash, however, which is why we can but gawk at this 250 Testa Rossa. It's as close as any mere mortal will ever come to owning one.

  • Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern
    Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern

    A new picture of Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who is now 90 years old, has drawn concern from people on Singapore's internet space.

  • Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls
    Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls

    After being photographed at work in Jurong pooling used oil near coffee shops, 50-year-old Valerie Sim has been struggling to keep her family afloat. Web portals STOMP and The Real Singapore published pictures of her in February, triggering a witch hunt for others like her and comments from readers like “Who knows if they’ll use it as cooking oil?” Some readers also said they filed police reports against her and other people they believed were doing the same thing she was.

  • Indonesian general says his flashy watch is a fake
    Indonesian general says his flashy watch is a fake

    JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's military commander said critics who called him out for wearing an especially luxurious watch should be quiet because the timepiece is actually a cheap Chinese fake.