MARTIN O’Neill says his plan in the next few years is to establish a team as solid and impressive as tomorrow opponents Everton.
The Black Cats travel to Goodison Part tomorrow knowing just how difficult it will be to get anything from David Moyes’ in-form side.
And the Sunderland boss says Everton provide a good example of the sort of steady building that teams like the Wearsiders can seek to emulate.
“I think Everton have got a good team and good bench and this could be their season,” he said.
“I’ve read that Phil Neville says they want a top four spot. Well, they’ve done it before and they might do it again.
“But it has taken them time to reach that position and they could be a club whose example we should follow.”
O’Neill says Everton have to be taken seriously this season and he has the greatest respect for them
“Nothing has surprised me about Everton,” he said. “They are very strong. They can compete physically and they can go long when they have to.
“They are strong and have been for quite some time.”
And while Sunderland will be doing their level best to beat Everton tomorrow, O’Neill sees much to admire in the way that Everton have built solidly over the years.
“Everton are going strongly at this moment in time – they’re having as good a start to the season as they have ever have – but does that mean that great start will continue?” he said.
“When you’ve got a bad record, maybe there’s something in it but when that happens it is up to the football club to change that.
“If the record is poor, we have to do something about it.
“It certainly won’t be top of the players’ minds. But as far as Everton are concerned generally, they’ve done really well over the years in building a side.
“They’ve got into the top four and they’ll push this season to do the same.
“They’re a good example of how successful clubs build on gradual improvement and that’s something we have to aspire to do ourselves over the next few years.”