Wednesday 13 December 2017

O'Neill staying grounded as Sunderland soar

MARTIN O'NEILL O'Neill is refusing to let anyone get carried away by Sunderland's surge into the top half of the Premier League.

The Black Cats climbed into eighth place with a 3-0 home victory over Norwich, which extended their run since his arrival to just two defeats in 11 games in all competitions.

However, he was dismissive when asked if they could now start looking upwards rather than over their shoulders.

O'Neill said: "We have got some points on the board, but... let's say Norwich go and beat you. Suddenly you lose a game or two and you don't know where the next point is coming from. It's important just to keep the players going."

Sunderland raced into a 2-0 lead inside 28 minutes with two goals.

First, Fraizer Campbell added to his comeback strike at the weekend with a superb 21st-minute volley, and then he turned provider to set up strike-partner Stephane Sessegnon to head home a second seven minutes later.

The points were secure nine minutes after the break when Phil Bardsley's cross found its way into the net.


O'Neill had failed in his attempts to land an experienced striker in last month's transfer window, but Campbell's stunning return to action tempered his disappointment.

He said: "I thought maybe someone like a Kevin Davies could come in and teach the younger players how to play centre-forward with your back to goal. But that's my job, to teach them how to play, so perhaps maybe I don't need that help. It's great for Fraizer. I am really pleased for him, and the likes of Ji (Dong-won), they have a contribution to make, and Fraizer has made it in big style."

Norwich were far from their best at the Stadium of Light, but manager Paul Lambert, who played under O'Neill at Celtic, was not too upset.

He said: "You take the disappointment and you mull over it for a few days. Saturday will be on us before we know it, and then we have to go again and try to win that."

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