SUNDERLAND boss Martin O'Neill insists he is not jealous of Manchester City’s mammoth spending power.
Tomorrow the 59-year-old Irishman hopes to open 2012 by putting a further dent in City's Barclays Premier League title ambitions following their 0-0 Boxing Day draw at West Brom.
O'Neill said of City’s big spending: “It's just part of the game.
"If you drop back to Chelsea a number of years ago, Chelsea had the spending power behind them and it yielded them the Premier League, they went very, very close in the Champions League a couple of times, and it proved worthwhile.
"Also, they had a fantastic manager in Jose Mourinho at the time, and Carlo Ancelotti carried that on last season.
"But Manchester City have taken it even to another level at the moment, and really, while these are the rules applying to the game, good luck to them."
Asked if City are genuine title contenders this season, O'Neill said: "Of course, absolutely, and I think they have shown that.
"They are a really, really top quality side and they have got strength in depth to go with it, which is very, very important these days."
Sunderland full-back Phil Bardsley and central defender Titus Bramble are not only doubts for Sunday's game with thigh and Achilles injuries respectively, but for Tuesday's trip to Wigan.
With Michael Turner also sidelined and Kieran Richardson having missed training this week through illness, Sunderland's defensive resources are desperately thin, and the likes of forgotten man Matt Kilgallon could get his chance.