WIN, lose or draw against defending Premier League champions Manchester United tomorrow, Martin O’Neill says he will still regard Sunderland’s season as successful.
He has pointed out ahead of Sunday’s game that avoiding relegation was always the club’s chief goal when he arrived in December.
And he says he will go into the close-season safe in the knowledge the club has foundations from which to build for next season.
He said: “Manchester United are going to be hugely motivated for tomorrow’s game, but no one knows how it is going to pan out on the day.
“What I do know is that it is nice to go into game knowing we don’t need points to avoid relegation.
“That certainly wasn’t the case when I arrived.
“If we win tomorrow or get a draw, we could finish in the top 10.
“If we lose, we could drop down to 13th or 14th – that’s the way the league is at the moment.
“But I would have snapped your hand off for 14th place on December 6!
“Of course, as you rise up the table you look at larger horizons, but we really did start very strongly and got to safety far quicker than I would have expected.
“Maybe that effort was so big that it has taken something out of us. That’s something I’ll have to bear in mind for next season.
“But it would be nice if we could go out of the current one on a good result.
“I’m happy with how the season has worked out for us, no matter what tomorrow’s game holds, but it would be good if we could go out on the back of a good performance.”