Sunderland in relegation fight, admits O’Neill

Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill has prepared his players and the club’s fans by declaring that his side are entrenched in a Premier League relegation fight.

Speaking to the BBC following Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Norwich, O’Neill, now Sunderland manager for over a year, suggested that Sunderland face a tough battle ahead to avoid the drop at the end of the season.

Our position in the league, with a couple of teams all tight together, would suggest we are in a fight. It is a battle for us, and we have to pull through,” O’Neill said.

Until you get the requisite number of points, I don’t think that you can ever think anything else. You need the points, it really is as simple as that. We haven’t got enough points on the board at the minute and we have to rectify that.

O’Neil took over from Steve Bruce last season when the Black Cats were similarly in relegation trouble, leading them to safety and an eventual finish of 13th. However, this season, despite having a solid defence, the Black Cats have the third lowest goal tally for the Premier League, and they sit just a point above the relegation zone.

Their defeat to Norwich leaves them with just one win from the last 10 games, although O’Neill saw some positives in the result. At 2-1 down before half-time, Sunderland piled the pressure on the Canaries defence in the second-half but could not add to Craig Gardner’s earlier strike, although they did see efforts hit the post and be cleared off the line.

I said to the players at the end that is we perform like we did in the second half, we will be fine. We are certainly not good enough to gift goals to teams and be able to turn that around. The top sides are able to that but we are certainly not a top side,” O’Neill added.

Sunderland next face Chelsea next Saturday at the Stadium of Light.

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