MARTIN O’Neill says, for all the goodwill he might get from Sunderland fans, he needs results and he needs them fast.
The Black Cats’ new boss is acutely aware of Sunderland’s precarious position just outside of the Premier League relegation zone and insists he has to hit the ground running, hopefully with victory over Blackburn Rovers on Sunday.
“Above all, we are in a results-driven business,” he said in his first Press conference as Sunderland manager yesterday.
“And I’m not fooling myself that we don’t need to get good results as soon as we can.
“We are in a bit of trouble at the moment, but there are plenty of matches – we just need to win a few of them.
“I don’t really want to make too much of my boyhood Sunderland affiliations.
“It’s true I was a genuine Sunderland supporter, but that was a long time ago.
“It might buy me a game or two good grace from the fans, but the reality has to set in and we have to win football games pretty quickly.”
With no room to manoeuvre in terms of the squad he has inherited, O’Neill is hoping the ability to breathe fresh confidence and enthusiasm into the place will pay dividends.
“The players have lost a bit of confidence – it’s hard to gain and easy to lose,” observed the former Leicester, Celtic and Aston Villa chief.
“When you’ve lost games in such a disappointing manner as Sunderland have against Wigan and Wolves, those games tend to get to affect players’ confidence.
“But these are fine players and, if they can regain that confidence, then you’ll see a difference.
“If I’m asked whether we can get results through sheer hard work and enthusiasm, then I’d say that if we have those qualities, we’re halfway there.
“I’m so energised about this challenge, I can’t describe it.
“There’s an energy about the club and clearly a passion and I’m hoping that these things will take us forward.
“I think a major part of my job is reigniting that passion, but I’m really looking forward to that.
“Everyone starts with a clean slate as far as the players are concerned.
“That’s something I feel is important.
“When you have a change of manager players have to approach the situation in exactly those terms and, over the course of time, everyone will get the opportunity to impress.
“It is a genuine privilege to be here.
“It really is a fantastic football club and it’s an honour to take up this post.”