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Sunderland hires O'Neill as new manager

Updated: December 03, 2011, 08:56


FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2010 file photo, Aston Villa's manager Martin O'Neill looks on before the English FA Cup fourth round soccer match against Brighton and Hove Albion at Villa Park stadium, Birmingham, England. O'Neill has been hired as the new manager of Sunderland, returning to the English Premier League nearly 16 months after quitting Aston Villa. The 59-year-old Northern Irishman has signed a three-year contract and takes over from Steve Bruce, who was fired on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011, with the team in 16th place in the Premier League _ two points above the relegation zone. (AP Photo/Simon Dawson, file)

SUNDERLAND, England(AP) Martin O'Neill has been hired as the new manager of Sunderland, returning to the English Premier League nearly 16 months after quitting Aston Villa.

The 59-year-old Northern Irishman has signed a three-year contract and takes over from Steve Bruce, who was fired on Wednesday with the team in 16th place in the Premier League - two points above the relegation zone.

A boyhood follower of Sunderland, O'Neill will be a popular appointment having built a strong managerial reputation following successful stints at Leicester, Celtic and Villa, which he led to three straight sixth-place finishes before resigning in August 2010.

Sunderland has won just two of its 13 league games this season.

O'Neill will take charge on Monday.

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