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Sunderland sack Bruce

Sunderland have sacked manager Steve Bruce after a string of disappointing results. They have targeted Martin O’Neill or Mark Hughes as possible replacements, with a relegation battle looming in the New Year.

Sunderland lie in 16th place in the Premier League, two points above the relegation zone. Fans chanted for the manager to be sacked during the home defeat against Wigan, but Bruce had vowed not to leave.

The decision was taken for him by Sunderland chairman Ellis Short. "Sadly results this season have simply not been good enough," Short said in a statement. "I feel the time is right to make a change."

Short paid tribute to the departing manager, which will be scant consolation to Bruce. "Steve has acted with honesty and integrity throughout, which is testament to the character and commitment he has shown during his time at Sunderland."

Hughes and O’Neill have both been out of work since leaving Fulham and Aston Villa. Hughes was recently the target of some sustained criticism by the Fulham owner Mohammed Fayed who said, "If people are looking for a flop, they have to look no further than the man who has lost his spark."

O’Neill left Aston Villa in August 2010. He was reportedly unhappy about the club’s failure to invest in new talent. He would probably prefer a bigger job than the vacancy at the Stadium of Light, but there is a danger that if he stays out of work much longer he could become the Premier League’s forgotten man.

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