MARTIN O’Neill says his New Year’s resolution for Sunderland is a modest, but vital one.
Asked what his hopes were for the club in 2012, he said: “Only for us to get out of bother – that’s the most important thing.
“Because despite having a half-decent run, we are still very much in it at the bottom of the table and we need to pull away.
“It’s not going to be easy, as the visit of Manchester City this weekend reminds us.
“Now you’ve got the situation on New Year’s Day where you have two teams meeting who are involved in important battles.
“City are involved in the battle at the very top of the table and we’re involved among those battling at the bottom.
“So we’ll both be very motivated teams on New Year’s Day, but for completely different reasons.
“As the season goes on, though, you are going to come up more and more against teams who are battling for one thing or another and that adds an edge and competitiveness to all these games.
“After Man City we have Wigan, who are battling at the bottom and then Chelsea, who are battling at the top and that’s not to mention the cup game against Peterborough in a knock-out competition, so in each game there’s a lot at stake.”
O’Neill is fully aware the transfer window, which opens on January 1, could offer an immediate route to a brighter future if owner Ellis Short proffers his cheque-book.
But the Sunderland manager says he is not going to be knocking on the door asking for cash – the owner will have to come to him.
“I’ve said repeatedly that I didn’t come to Sunderland with the expectation of what I might spend in January,” he said.
“That wasn’t the reason I took the job.
“I really don’t know what might happen in January, but if we have to go through to the end of the season with the squad we currently have, then I’m more than prepared for that being the case.”