MARTIN O’Neill says he knows how to turn Sunderland’s fortunes around, and is determined to do it.
The manager believes hard work in training and steadfast faith in his players will produce a team Wearside can be proud of.
This afternoon Sunderland face Everton for the first time since O’Neill’s record at the club took a turn for the worse.
While his job is not under threat, a 21-game sequence featuring just one win over top-flight opposition has led to greater scrutiny of O’Neill. He was ready for it yesterday.
“It’s my ambition – task – to put a real side out and I know how to do that,” he insisted. “By hook or by crook I intend to make this team one the supporters are genuinely proud of and feel as if they have a chance of competing.
“I do have, I think, a little bit of spirit, plenty of determination and a load of enthusiasm. It would mean a lot to me to make this a fairly decent football club. I’ve got a lot of self-belief not to be knocked off course here by a couple of results.
“I’ll put everything into it and I’ve got absolutely no doubt it’ll be good.
“If this situation continues when we’re just treading water or are in serious difficulty every year, well, I’m sorry, what’s the point me doing it? What’s the point? You could get anybody else in to do it.
“I intend to try to change it, but it will not happen overnight. The greatest living manager in the game (Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson, pictured right) has had 26 years at Old Trafford and he will tell you.
“By the same token, I don’t want Sunderland supporters to be waiting a decade for it!
“Even if we’d eked out a victory against Aston Villa (last week) we could still have a really tough time.
“Essentially we’re still not able to compete at the very top level – we’re not up there with the Evertons. But that’s what we should be aspiring to.”
History suggests O’Neill’s is a hard task, but that he is up to it.