Belfast Telegraph

O’Neill gets down to business at Sunderland

By Jon Fisher

Martin O'Neill is due to introduce himself to the majority of Sunderland's players today having seen first hand their limitations at Wolves on Sunday.

O'Neill was appointed as Steve Bruce's successor on Saturday and was in the stands as the Wearsiders, under caretaker boss Eric Black, squandered a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 at Molineux — their fifth game without a win and a result which saw them slip to 17th in the table.

Former Leicester, Celtic and Aston Villa boss O'Neill officially took over yesterday but was not due to address the bulk of the players until today as they were having a day off following Sunday's exertions. O’Neill was also due to be officially unveiled to the media.

The 59-year-old is likely to have learned a lot from his Sunday afternoon in the Black Country.

Sunderland looked, at times, a slick outfit, displaying a swift counter-attacking style which reaped its rewards through Kieran Richardson's fine opener.

But as soon as Sebastian Larsson missed a 72nd-minute penalty, the writing was on the wall as a lack of leadership evident under Bruce resurfaced. Steven Fletcher nodded Wolves level almost immediately and the former Burnley striker scored again with nine minutes to go.

Black said: “Martin will have seen the strengths that we have,” said Black, who is expected to leave Sunderland's backroom staff as part of a reshuffle.

“I think he knows there are some good things to take forward, but I think he'll also know that there are some problems. I'm sure he'll start trying to rectify those problems this week, and I'm sure he'll be able to start turning things around. I'm confident there's enough quality in that dressing

room to turn things around.”

O'Neill is excited at the challenge and eager to buy into the vision sold to him by Black Cats chairman Ellis Short.

“Mr Short impressed me very much with his vision for the club,” he admitted.

“He has great aspirations for it, and like everyone who takes on a football club he wants it to be as successful as possible. He has these plans for the football club which are very impressive indeed.”

O'Neill is particularly relishing working at the Stadium of Light.

“When the Stadium of Light is rocking it really is intimidating for other teams coming up,” he said.

“I have managed on a number of occasions against Sunderland, in particular when I was in charge of Leicester for the League Cup semi-final in 1999.

“Sunderland at that stage had a really strong side. We did well to win the game; they gave us a torrid time and could have easily have gone through.

“I think the move from Roker Park to the Stadium of Light was done well; the club have settled in.

“The lights shining at night make the place a bit special.”

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