Martin O’Neill has ordered his Sunderland players to start looking for “cheap” goals by anticipating the prospect of a tap-in, writes Chris Young.
O’Neill believes Sunderland must learn the lessons from last weekend’s clash against West Brom, where the Black Cats failed to take advantage of unconvincing Baggies stopper Boaz Myhill.
On three occasions, Myhill spilled efforts from the Black Cats – twice from Stephane Sessegnon and again in the second half from Adam Johnson – yet there wasn’t a red and shirt in the vicinity able to take advantage.
That is something O’Neill knows must improve, particularly this weekend against a Norwich side who have conceded just three times in their last seven Premier League games.
O’Neill said: “Three times against West Brom, their goalkeeper parried shots and we should have had someone following in there and taking that gamble.
“Then it’s an easy goal, it’s a tap-in, rather than having a defender booting it clear for a corner kick.
“That is something we must improve on – getting cheap goals, those tap-ins from a couple of yards out.
“You need somebody in there, a Michael Owen-esque player who can feast on those chances.”
One point from two back-to-back home games has left Sunderland just a point clear of the relegation zone, albeit the Black Cats still have a game in hand on the bulk of their peers.
But with just five points separating 11th placed Fulham and third bottom Southampton, O’Neill believes the bottom half of the division will remain compact for several weeks.
“We’re in a position in the league where it’s so tight,” added the Sunderland manager.
“We’re two or three points away from mid-table and two or three points away from relegation.
“It’s going to be like that for a number of weeks. There’s a lot of sides similar in quality and you just have to eke out that bit of luck to get a result.”