Expectation excites O'Neill
New Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill insists he does not fear the challenge of fulfilling expectation on Wearside.
The 59-year-old will send his side out for the first time against Blackburn on Sunday knowing they are flirting with a Premier League relegation battle. That is a far cry from the situation envisaged by either chairman and owner Ellis Short when he allowed predecessor Steve Bruce to drastically overhaul the squad during the summer after a top-10 finish, or the club's fans.
"In this day and age clubs of this size would want to have some sort of expectation. It would be nice, it would be great to have some sort of ambition. I just don't know, but the idea of wanting to have ambition, it doesn't scare me. In fact, that's the sort of thing that would spur you on," said O'Neill.
"Peter Reid twice finished seventh and last season under Steve they finished 10th. This is the fifth year now of Premier League football, so there's a foundation there. What you would like to do if it's at all possible is to try to push on."
To do that, however, the Black Cats will have to turn around a run of form which has left them hovering uneasily above the bottom three after winning just two of their 14 league games to date this season.
Perhaps more worryingly, they have collected three points at the Stadium of Light on only three occasions since the turn of the year, and a last-gasp defeat by strugglers Wigan in their last home fixture proved the end for Bruce.
O'Neill said: "We just need a few more points on the board, and we need to try to get them as soon as possible.
"If that's the case, confidence returns to the team and that's so, so important because you have got good players playing with not fantastic confidence and therefore their performances suffer a little bit. It's up to all of us to try to rectify that as soon as possible."
Meanwhile, O'Neill has added Hibernian's former head of performance Jim Henry to his backroom staff, the Edinburgh club have confirmed.