Thursday 26 April 2018

O'Neill retains Black Cats belief

Manager Martin O'Neill admitted he could have to dip into the transfer market in January
Manager Martin O'Neill admitted he could have to dip into the transfer market in January

Martin O'Neill remains confident he can bring lasting success to Sunderland as he prepares to celebrate a year in charge at the Stadium of Light.

The Ulsterman will mark 12 months at the helm on Thursday, by which point he will hope to have addressed a difficult start to the season which has left some questioning his presence on Wearside.

O'Neill continues to enjoy the support of owner and chairman Ellis Short and ahead of Sunday's Barclays Premier League visit to former club Norwich, he said: "It's almost exactly what I thought it would be and from that aspect, it hasn't disappointed."

He added: "It's a tough job, I know. Mr Short said to me when I came here in first of all, 'Look, try to stay in the division', and perhaps we got carried away with ourselves because we were able to achieve that more quickly than I had thought.

"This season, it has been tough - I expected it to be tough, and obviously, it's important that we are in this division for next season as well. There is no such thing as a five or 10-year project anymore in management, but it takes a little bit of time. That's very, very obvious, but I expect it to be successful."

O'Neill got off to a flying start in his latest job when he dragged the side he had inherited from predecessor Steve Bruce out of a relegation fight in impressive style and then set about the task of ensuring they avoided being sucked into that kind of dogfight again.

But almost a year on and having invested £22million in Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson during the summer, the Black Cats are hovering precariously over the drop zone having won just two of their last 21 league games.

Major investment in January was never really on the agenda, but O'Neill admits he would not be averse to carrying out significant strengthening work during the notoriously difficult transfer window. He said: "It is the one opportunity during the course of the season that you get, and it would be inappropriate for us not to have a look at that.

"We will try to strengthen if we can do. Most people will tell you that maybe it is not the best time, but I have done it in the past and the players I have taken in in the January transfer window have proved pretty successful, the likes of Ashley Young (at Aston Villa).

"If you were thinking about somebody that you feel is capable of doing something pretty okay for the club for the next couple of years, then January is no different to the summer time."

Press Association

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section