Sunderland approach O’Neill about replacing under-fire Bruce

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It’s not been a great start to the season for Steve Bruce and his Sunderland team, and things may be about to get worse for the former Manchester United defender.

A return of six points from Sunderland’s opening seven games has seen Bruce come under immediate pressure and the Sunderland manager is now just 2/1 to be the next Premier League manager to leave.

He is only headed in the betting by Blackburn’s Steve Kean (8/11) who will be hoping his side return from their jaunt to India rejuvenated, but while Blackburn have six days until their next Premier League tie, Bruce may not have so long.

The Sunday Express are today claiming that Martin O’Neill has been approached by the Sunderland board to take over and there are many who believe that Niall Quinn’s decision to step down as chairman has signalled the end of Bruce’s reign.

It is believed O’Neill was approached three weeks ago but refused to talk about any appointment while Bruce was still manager, and new chairman, owner Ellis Short, looks set to risk losing Bruce in the hope of bringing in O’Neill.

Quinn’s new role at Sunderland as the man in charge of global development means Bruce still has an ally in the boardroom, but with consecutive away games to Arsenal and Bolton coming up Bruce has a tough job to convince his new chairman.

The 2/1 for Bruce to leave will be snapped up by canny punters in light of the O’Neill revelations and with those two tough games coming up, many would see Sunderland taking nil points from a possible six.

Steve Kean’s Blackburn face a trip to Queens Park Rangers on Saturday before hosting Tottenham Hotspur the following week.

Neither game is easy and QPR’s solid start to the season means Blackburn will have to work hard for any points at Loftus Road.

Many will see this fixture as having a huge influence on the relegation battle and should Blackburn lose and disappoint, it could be a case of which board has the most patience in their manager.

The fact the Blackburn fans are so vocal about Kean’s exit is a positive for Bruce, but Sunderland will not want to lose O’Neill to Blackburn, and with a Blackburn board that can offer a stable financial basis to work from, O’Neill may well be interested in the north west rather than the north east.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.