O’Neill: Sunderland are off the survival pace as they head to QPR

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill takes his side to Queens Park Rangers tonight.
Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill takes his side to Queens Park Rangers tonight.
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MARTIN O'Neill has admitted Sunderland are off the pace in the race for Barclays Premier League survival.

The Black Cats head for QPR tonight having collected only 14 points from their first 16 games of the season, and that has left them vulnerable in 16th place in the table.

O'Neill has set his players the task of increasing that ratio to at least a point a game to give themselves a platform for the rest of the season, and victory at Loftus Road would do just that.

He said: "I have used the word unsafe - I might as well say it again. We need to get points on the board.

"We got three against Blackburn, which were very, very welcome indeed, and it's great.

"But as we speak, we don't even have a one point per game ratio, and the sooner we can get to that...

"That would have to be our starting point. We are behind the clock at the moment."

O'Neill's two matches to date have seen his side stage a late fightback to beat struggling Blackburn 2-1, and then lose narrowly on the road to a depleted Tottenham on Sunday.

The 59-year-old was able to take plenty of positives out of the display at White Hart Lane, but he would accept a victory tonight however it came.

He said: "Absolutely, absolutely. The delight we had in winning against Blackburn was great. It was a fairly lengthy time since we had done it, so that was lovely.

"I took a lot of positives out of the game on Sunday - we showed that commitment and always were in the game even though maybe when Tottenham got the goal, they could maybe have got a second and put it beyond us.

"But we were always in the game, so from that viewpoint, we can go to Queens Park Rangers in positive mode."

Earlier on Sunday afternoon, QPR had somehow managed to prevent Manchester United running away with the game after the visitors scored inside the first minute, eventually losing 2-0, but not before threatening to drag themselves back into it.

O'Neill said: "You saw the effort QPR put in against Manchester United - I know they might have conceded maybe a couple of other goals, but they could have scored two or three themselves, and they will be battling right to the end."