A DELIGHTED Martin O’Neill last night saw his Sunderland side move to within a point of neighbours Newcastle United after an impressive win over Reading.
First-half goals from James McClean and Steven Fletcher set up an easy 3-0 victory, which was sealed by Stéphane Sessegnon in stoppage time.
The performance, which was impressive from start to finish at the Stadium of Light, was witnessed by club owner Ellis Short, who gave what has to be described as an off-the-record pre-match Press briefing that left little doubt that his support for Black Cats manager O’Neill remains 100%, no matter what the result was against Reading.
Both American and Northern Irishman will hope this deserved win, which could easily have been even more emphatic, will spark this season into life for the Black Cats, who face Manchester United at Old Trafford this Saturday.
Sunderland are now out of the relegation zone having pulled themselves up to 15th place in the Premier League with 16 points, one place and one point behind their local rivals.
And while a win over a poor Reading side cannot be viewed as a revival taken in isolation, the performance would have given O’Neill belief that a corner has been turned at long last.
The only negative on the night was the fact that Adam Johnson, Danny Rose and Phil Bardsley all went off with injuries.
However, this was a happy first anniversary for O’Neill as Black Cats boss.