THE failure of Sunderland’s creative players to genuinely create in yesterday’s derby was glaring and something readily acknowledged by Martin O’Neill.
But the Black Cats boss, frustrated by his men’s failure, also reiterated his support and the belief that they will come good once they get into the rhythm of regular fixtures which lie ahead.
“The opposition made it difficult for our wingers,” he agreed after the 1-1 draw with Newcastle.
“But they’re entitled to do that, you know – you expect the opposition to pressure you – and you have to find a way past that.
“It was a tough old game – but I just think our creative players are just finding it a bit tough at this minute.
“We just need those players to get back to what they’re capable of doing and we’ll look at that in the next few weeks.
“But I have faith in the lads that they can come through it.
“When you are a confidence player and things aren’t happening for you, it takes real character to try the same thing again, but you just have to keep going until it comes good again.”
O’Neill admits it would have been nice to have had more points on the board by this stage, but insists he is not dismayed by the season so far.
“Before today’s game we’ve had four away games and two at home – and they’ve been tough fixtures,” he mused.
“We would have liked to have converted one or two of our draws into wins – the West Ham game, in particular, springs to mind.
“But it has been tough.
Though it wasn’t a performance, or even a result, to savour, O’Neill said his first Wear-Tyne derby was an education.
“It was a genuine experience for me,” he reflected.
“The noise that greeted kick-off was awesome, but the noise that greeted our equalising goal, I seriously won’t forget in a hurry.”