ALFRED N’DIAYE says Sunderland still require two wins from their remaining five games to ensure their derby euphoria provides the foundation for Premier League survival.
Sunderland ended a three-month wait for a Premier League victory in Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby to arrest the slide towards the relegation zone and create a three-point buffer with the bottom three.
But Black Cats head coach Paolo Di Canio immediately warned his players when they returned to the dressing room at St James’s Park that there is more work to be done.
Midfielder N’Diaye agrees, stressing that Sunderland need two more wins to take them to the sanctity of the 40-point mark before their mission is accomplished.
N’Diaye told the Echo: “The manager congratulated us after the game, but he told us that the season is not over just because we have won the derby.
“There is still a lot of work to do.
“He said we need to concentrate on Saturday’s game against Everton now and then, after that, Aston Villa.
“I think we still need two more wins. We have got some big games coming up and we need to win them.
“We have got five games left, including games against Aston Villa, Stoke and Southampton, and if we play like we did against Newcastle, we will be fine.
“Everyone is very happy, but now we have to follow it up with a good performance and result against Everton to help us climb the table.”
Sunderland leapfrogged both Stoke and Aston Villa after bringing a conclusion to a nine-match winless streak on Tyneside.
But the Black Cats’ position remains precarious, with third-bottom Wigan boasting two games in hand, the first of which is at fellow FA Cup finalists Manchester City tomorrow night.
“A win has been a long time coming – we hadn’t won a game since we beat Wigan in January – and because the win came in a derby, it is very important,” said N’Diaye.
“It was a special win for the fans because it was the derby, but it was also an important win for us because of the situation in the table.
“It was so important for the team, because if we had lost and Wigan win against Man City tomorrow, then we would have been in the bottom three.
“But now we have 34 points and that is much better.”
N’Diaye enjoyed arguably his best display in a red and white shirt at St James’s, in his first taste of the derby since arriving from Turkish outfit Bursaspor in January.
The 23-year-old added: “When I first came here, everybody told me about this game and how important it was and it is fantastic to have won.
“I loved the atmosphere and it made it a great occasion. It was fantastic when we scored and you could see our fans celebrating.
“It was a very nice game and a good win for everybody – for the fans, for the players and for the manager.
“We played with heart, with fight and we came together as a team.”