SUNDERLAND are not out of the woods yet, says Martin O’Neill, writes GRAEME ANDERSON.
And he has warned that the Black Cats cannot afford to be complacent about their position in the Premier League despite being within striking distance of the top half.
Sunderland currently lie 12th with 29 points from 25 games – a full eight points clear of the bottom three.
But Saturday’s defeat at Reading prevented them from climbing into the top 10 for the first time this season and instead reminded the manager that a few bad results – just like a few good ones – can quickly change the Premier League picture.
“The defeat means that we start to look down the table now rather than up,” he said after Sunderland threw away the chance of a fairly comfortable draw at the Madejski Stadium and an outside chance of a victory.
“Had we won the game we would have been over the 30-point mark, which would have been an important milestone at this stage of the season,” he reflected.
“That’s why getting beaten so late on in this game was really disappointing.”
With eight out of nine of the teams below them picking up points, O’Neill admitted: “It is hotting up at the bottom.
“I saw chunks of the game between Norwich and QPR before our match and they were both fighting hard.
“I saw Villa getting a point against Everton, who are always difficult opponents, and it is going to be up and down all the way between now and the end of the season.
“The games will be difficult, and we saw that in our own match against Reading.
“So I can’t feel certain that we are out of it.
“Until you get the points on the board it is always possible to get sucked in. We still have more points to get.”