NIALL Quinn believes Sunderland will be a Premier League club next season – and no one will be happier than the former chairman if that proves to be the case.
The Irishman provided the expert summary for Sky TV’s coverage of the recent Newcastle v Sunderland derby and struggled to keep his attachment to the Black Cats under control after one goal after another was scored by his former club while new head coach Paolo Di Canio danced jigs of joy down the touchline at St James’s Park.
That victory steered Sunderland away from the drop zone and the escape plan continued with victory over Everton last week, leaving Quinn quietly confident that the club will get the handful of points it needs in its remaining four games to ensure it stays in the top flight for the new TV rights deal next season which will be so important to the long-term futures of so many clubs.
“Paolo Di Canio has brought an incredible zest to the team right now,”Quinn reflected:
“How long it lasts is the big question. But hopefully it will last for a long, long time.
“They will do enough, I think, to stay up, and good luck to them, I think it will be great.
“I had seven years at Sunderland as a player nearly and six odd years in an administrative role and the club gets to you a little bit.
“I’m delighted to see it going so well. There’s a lot of good people behind the scenes that nobody knows about.
“So I’m thrilled with that.
“I have to feel for Martin O’Neill, who is a great manager with great history and it ended a little bluntly for him.
“But overall, Sunderland are going grand now.”
As for the other two clubs Quinn graced in his 19-year playing career – though both may be miles above Sunderland in the Premier League table, he accepts they also have loftier aspirations.
“Manchester City have had to play a little bit second fiddle to Manchester United this season, as I predicted they would and most people expected when you have Robin van Persie signing for United and Nemanja Vidic coming back into the team, said Quinn
“It was always going to be tough for City, especially with United running them so close last season, and you have to give them credit for that – United are a class act.
“And then you have Arsenal who really turned it around.
“They have gone from a position of being almost vilified six or seven weeks ago to the situation where they have a great chance now of playing Champions League football.
“Personally, I’m just enjoying seeing how the season pans out.
“I’m delighted to still be involved a little bit through the commentary role, staying close to it. I think I’m quite lucky.”