O’Neill and Ba win monthly awards

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill Under O’Neill the Black Cats have picked up 13 points from a possible 18

Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill has been named the Premier League’s manager of the month for December.

The 59-year-old only took over at the start of the month but guided his side to two wins, one draw and one defeat in the four games he was in charge.

The player of the month award has gone to Newcastle striker Demba Ba, 26, who scored five goals in six matches.

Despite Ba’s contribution, United won only one of those six games, losing four.

The Senegalese forward, who will spend much of January and February at the Africa Cup of Nations, scored both Newcastle goals in a 4-2 defeat at Norwich at the start of December.

Sunderland won only two of their first 14 Premier League games of the season but have won four out of six under Martin O’Neill

He also bagged a brace in the 2-3 home defeat by West Brom before scoring his fifth of the month in the 2-0 win at Bolton.

Sunderland’s impressive start under O’Neill, who replaced Steve Bruce, has continued into January with a 4-1 win at Wigan and 1-0 victory over Manchester City in their first two games of 2012.

O’Neill, who has won the award on seven previous occasions, opened with a last-gasp 2-1 win over Blackburn at the Stadium of Light.

A 1-0 defeat at Tottenham followed but O’Neill’s side bounced back with a 3-2 victory at Queens Park Rangers before rounding the month off with a 1-1 home draw with Everton.