DAVID Vaughan believes Sunderland would have been stuck in a rut if they had failed to get the better of fellow strugglers Blackburn Rovers.
The Black Cats ended a run of five games without a win last weekend after late goals from Vaughan and Seb Larsson ensured the Martin O’Neill era began on a high note.
Sunderland are now two points clear of the drop zone ahead of Sunday’s trip to Tottenham, who dropped down to fourth in the table last night after Chelsea’s victory over league leaders Manchester City.
Welsh international Vaughan insists success against Blackburn can be the turning point for O’Neill’s side, although he realises Sunderland still have work to do to move away from relegation danger.
Vaughan said: “If we had lost then we might have slipped back into the sort of run we had under the previous manager.
“We had to get out of that. It was important we won and we did.
“Tottenham away is not going to be easy. But we have shown we have enough quality in the squad to deliver in the Premier League. We have greater confidence now and we have climbed out of the bottom three – but that has to be just the start.
“We can’t just rest on our laurels. We have to keep going, particularly at home, and climb the table up to where we want to be.”
Vaughan, who opened his Sunderland account with a stunning late leveller on Sunday, was glowing in his praise of O’Neill’s impact since succeeding Steve Bruce.
The former Celtic and Aston Villa boss has only had a week on the training ground with his new charges, but Vaughan insists he has already injected some much-needed self-belief back into the Sunderland squad.
“The new manager has come and given us some belief again,” added Vaughan.
“He wants us to go out there and express ourselves a bit and try to enjoy our football.
“The last week with the new manager has been good. Training has been good. We have been having shorter, sharper sessions. We have had more tempo in the sessions and it has just been aimed at trying to get everyone enjoying their football again.
“He’s been very supportive and has been telling us what he wants from us. He believes in the players he has got here and that gives us self-belief and confidence.
“First impressions have been good. He seems to be fair with everyone. He has been approachable and seems to be someone who you want to play for.
“Sometimes it can be difficult when a new manager comes in because you are not sure which players he wants to have in his team or what his ideas will be. But he has come in and put his marker down on the team and it’s up to the players now.”