Stoke sack Michael O’Neill as manager after sluggish Championship start

Stoke have sacked Michael O’Neill as manager and placed his assistant Dean Holden in interim charge. The club have won one and lost three of their opening five Championship games and lie fourth from bottom, just above the relegation places.

Stoke’s joint chairman John Coates said in a statement: “Michael joined us in November 2019 when the club was in a difficult situation and the job he did in stabilising our position in the Championship should not be underestimated.

“Michael has worked tirelessly and with extreme professionalism, in particular in reshaping our squad and developing young players, but we feel the time is right to move in a different direction. I would like to thank him for his efforts and wish him every success for the future.

“Assistant manager Dean Holden will take interim charge of the first team. The club has begun the process of appointing a new manager.”

O’Neill, a former Northern Ireland manager, succeeded Nathan Jones at Stoke in November 2019 with the club second- bottom of the second tier. They finished 15th, then 14th in each of the next two seasons.

Stoke, who have also been eliminated from the Carabao Cup by League One Morecambe, play at Blackburn on Saturday.