MARTIN O’Neill insists Swansea revelation Michu was never a genuine target for Sunderland during the summer.
The success of 13-goal Michu at Swansea since his £2million switch from Spanish side Rayo Vallecano has prompted scrutiny over why other Premier League sides didn’t manage to land the 26-year-old.
Sunderland are among the vast majority of top flight outfits who are mooted to have been offered the chance to land Michu by his representatives.
But Black Cats boss O’Neill says Michu’s equaliser in August’s 2-2 draw at Swansea was the first time the Spaniard made a significant impression on his radar.
O’Neill told the Echo: “You can take some sort of consolation that Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson didn’t know about him.
“Someone picks up Michu and everyone jumps on the bandwagon by saying this player was available.
“But there are loads of players available. Swansea got him and maybe it was an advantage that (Michael) Laudrup has worked in Spain.
“He wasn’t a player who was immediately springing to my mind.
“When we played down there, it was the first real notice you had of him.
“He had done very well two weeks before that at QPR, but that was the first time I properly took notice of him and he’s continued in that vein. He’s done very well.”
Swansea have confounded predictions of a “second season syndrome” after shrugging off the departure of manager Brendan Rodgers to thrive under successor Michael Laudrup in their second season of Premier League football.
O’Neill is full of admiration for the stewardship of the former Denmark international and is not convinced that the cup exploits of the Capital One Cup finalists will prove a distraction in tonight’s Stadium of Light clash.
“I suppose there might have been a feeling that Swansea might level off in some aspect with Brendan Rodgers leaving and going to Liverpool,” said O’Neill.
“But it seems that transition was seamless. In fact, they’ve kicked on and done very well.
“At the start of the season, I wouldn’t really have known what to expect from them. But Laudrup has done very well.
“They’ve had a bit of time to digest, think about what they’ve done in the League Cup and they’ll want to kick on themselves.”
Meanwhile, Sunderland will continue to be without the services of Lee Cattermole, Danny Rose and Carlos Cuellar tonight.
Cattermole has had an injection in his knee since re-aggravating ligament damage in training a fortnight ago, while Rose and Cuellar are still recovering from hamstring strains sustained at Bolton earlier this month.
“There is progress, but maybe not quickly enough,” added O’Neill.
“I think it might be a bit too early for all those three players.”