MARTIN O’Neill says his players are now going into games expecting to win rather than fearing they will lose.
The Sunderland manager has overseen a stunning turnaround in the club’s fortunes since his arrival less than two months ago.
And while he is reticent about getting carried away with the great start made – the best by a Sunderland manager in 100 years – he is prepared to acknowledge that there has been a big change in the mood around the place.
“Winning breeds confidence and we’re benefiting from that, even with the injuries we’ve picked up,” he said.
“There’s an eagerness about the place and I think even when there’s a knock picked up, there’s someone on the fringe who is eager to seize their chance.
“We’ve just had to look to bring in a couple of more bodies to try to make sure that the injury problems don’t overtake us.
“We’ve brought in a couple of defenders, which will be a big help. Pity that we couldn’t have brought in a striker, but hopefully we can cope with that because few of the injuries we have, thankfully, are long-term.
“Wes Brown is arguably the worst but even that doesn’t look as though it will need an operation and we’re hoping he’ll be out for no more than a couple of months.”
O’Neill says the current positive mental attitude is bringing the best out of the squad but points out that no one at the club gets complacent.
Speaking ahead of the testing trip to Stoke tomorrow, he said: “We’ve done well but I think a big part of that is because we’ve not taken anything granted at any stage.
“We’ve approached every game fully aware that we could easily lose it but, at the same time, we’ve looked to be completely positive in our belief that we can get something out of every match if we play to our full potential.
“And I think in the game against Norwich City midweek you saw everyone in our side working ever so hard and playing to their potential.”