MARTIN O’Neill says he has got to get his Sunderland players believing in themselves again.
The new manager feels that a huge part of his job right now is restoring confidence to a squad which had won only two games in 16 this season before his arrival.
And the Irishman (pictured, right) believes that if he can get the players’ heads right again, he’ll be half-way there to turning things around.
“I think a lot of this league is mental,” he told the Echo. “And that goes for us, too.
“You have to be very strong to make progress and I think that defeats definitely knock you. Not only does it knock you, it takes away confidence and it erodes self-belief.
“I think that’s been our problem this season and it’s that mental fragility we have to turn around.
“Winning football games helps you enormously to lift yourselves and the one thing tends to support the others. We have to win games to build confidence knowing that greater confidence will be the biggest factor in helping us win more games after that.”
O’Neill reckons Sunderland have to try to get through the festive fixture list as competitively as possible in order to set themselves up for a positive start to the New Year. But he believes a good start has been made.
“We’ve won two out of three,” he said, as he continued preparations today for Boxing Day’s clash with Everton at the Stadium of Light.
“We know we have a tough period ahead of us and we know the number of points we have to try and get.
“The points we’ve picked up – particularly bearing in mind what happened against Wigan and Wolves – were certainly the most vital thing.
“The fact that we didn’t play too badly in those games and that we actually played well enough to win them, certainly helps.
“We’ve just got to keep on believing and keep on working hard at getting things right.”