Belfast Telegraph

Short aiming high for Sunderland

Sunderland owner and chairman Ellis Short has praised manager Martin O'Neill for bringing top-six form to the club.

Short dispensed with the services of Steve Bruce and installed O'Neill in December with the Black Cats flirting with relegation. However, since watching from the stands as his side lost 2-1 at Wolves on December 4, O'Neill's men have taken 31 Barclays Premier League points from a possible 57 to ease themselves into the comfort of mid-table.

Writing in his programme notes, Short said: "Looking at a league table based on results since Martin took over, we would be in joint-fifth position with Everton, who have played a game more than us in that period."

He added: "We have taken 31 points from the 19 league games Martin has overseen. Were that to be repeated over another 19 games representing a full season, we would accumulate 62 points, which last year was enough to reach fifth place.

"That's comparable with the sixth position Martin managed to get Aston Villa to in each of his last three seasons in the Barclays Premier League before joining us.

"Our aim is to establish ourselves as a club who can regularly finish in the top half of the table and look to climb as high as possible.

"You would have to go all the way back to 1955 to find the last time the club finished in the top six, but top-six form is what we have had for the last half of the season, and we are seeking to consolidate this improvement and look to build on it in the seasons to come."

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