Lack of goals cost Sunderland in the end – O’Neill

MARTIN O' NEILL ... says he would have kept Sunderland in the Premier League.

MARTIN O' NEILL ... says he would have kept Sunderland in the Premier League.

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SACKED Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill admitted that ultimately his side wasn’t good enough and didn’t score enough goals.

But he still believes that he would have kept the side in the Premier League and could have gone on to build on that with new signings this summer.

“It has been a difficult season, and I didn’t expect anything else,” he said.

“There’s no doubt we have had some flat and uninspiring games, but that can happen.

“It can happen for any number of reasons and even confident players can go into their shell.

“We struggled to score goals, that has been our problem all along. We brought in Steven Fletcher and he has been a terrific signing, but one man can’t do it all by himself.”

Although O’Neill’s signings failed to sparkle in the way he would have hoped, he pointed out he didn’t bring too many new players in and also suggested it is too early to pass verdicts on them.

He said: “I came into the club in 2011 and did well and so in the January transfer window we decided to leave well alone making just a few loan signings.

“In the summer we brought in a couple of new players – Steven Fletcher has been a success, while every football club at the time wanted Adam Johnson.

“He’s had a tough season and a lot of expectation on his shoulders but again, one player can’t change everything.

“We signed Danny Graham and Alfred N’Diaye in January and I would say you would have to wait a little longer before judging them.

“We have some fine players at the club, but we don’t have enough true ability for the players to handle everything thrown at them.”

The ex-manager said he retains his affection for the club and will watch out for their progress.

But in his first interview since his dismissal, he did not want to get drawn into discussing his successor.

“I will look for Sunderland’s results – inevitably and absolutely, he said.

“But I have nothing to say about the change – that’s part of Sunderland future.

“Paolo Di Canio has said he can keep Sunderland up and that’s up to him.

“I’ve never met him though and it’s got nothing to do with me.”