DAVID VAUGHAN insists Sunderland must produce a reaction against buoyant QPR this weekend if they are to keep their top-eight objective on track.
The Black Cats missed the chance to overhaul the two-point gap with eighth-placed Swansea on Tuesday night after the 2-0 defeat to relegation-threatened Blackburn left Martin O’Neill’s men in ninth spot in the Premier League table.
They face another of the sides engulfed in the fight for survival on Saturday when QPR visit the Stadium of Light, fresh from last night’s stunning comeback victory against Liverpool.
Midfielder Vaughan, who made his first start since January at Ewood Park, hopes Sunderland can produce a similar reaction to last month’s 4-0 rout at West Brom, when the Wearsiders almost took the derby spoils at the Sports Direct Arena in their subsequent game.
Vaughan (pictured) said: “Eighth is still our minimum target. We want to win as many games as we can and get as far in the cup as we can, too.
“But we want to finish eighth, which would be a great achievement after the first few months. To do that, we’ve got to bounce back because Tuesday wasn’t good enough from us. We’re a better team than that.
“We have bounced back before. We did it after the West Brom game and we have to do it again.
“You can’t win every game and you can’t necessarily play well in every game, but we need to get our season back on track after Blackburn.”
The 29-year-old added: “It was a very unusual performance for us under Martin O’Neill. We want to put it right over the weekend and just get back to winning ways.
“I think you just have to put it down to one of those things.
“If we were playing badly all the time then maybe it would be a reason to worry, but we’ve been doing really well. It is just hard to put your finger on it.”
Vaughan admits boss O’Neill was infuriated by Sunderland’s display after the visitors failed to muster a shot on target against the side with the second worst defensive record in the Premier League.
The Welsh international added: “It was a very bad night at the office. The manager told us one or two things he wanted us to put right. I think it was the maddest I’ve seen him.
“He wasn’t very happy, but that’s understandable because he has set very high standards for us.
“Now it is up to us to put things right and show what we’re really about.
“It was such a disappointing evening after the last few results. After everything that we’ve managed to achieve over the last few months, it just wasn’t like us to play like that.”