KIERAN RICHARDSON believes that new boss Martin O’Neill can provide the tonic to Sunderland’s battle-scarred players after an “emotional” week ended in more misery.
O’Neill was in the stands at Molineux yesterday to witness Sunderland’s spectacular late collapse as Steven Fletcher’s late double left the Black Cats just a solitary point above the drop zone.
The former Aston Villa boss started work officially at the Stadium of Light this morning and will take charge for the first time in Sunday’s crucial basement battle with third-bottom Blackburn Rovers.
Richardson knows the importance of securing what would only be a third victory of the campaign against Steve Kean’s men and believes a fresh start under O’Neill will work in Sunderland’s favour.
“It’s been a bit emotional this week because, when a new manager comes in, after the old one is sacked, it means the team is not doing well,” Richardson told the Echo.
“It’s been upsetting from that point of view.
“But the new manager gives you a lift and hopefully it will get the players back to winning ways.
“We believe we can do that, we’ve got the players and I’m sure the fans know that as well.
“This week, we’ve got to crack on with a new manager coming in, with new tactics, new everything.
“From now on, it starts afresh and we’ll see what happens.”
Left-back Richardson’s second goal of the season handed Sunderland the lead early in the second half at Wolves, yet it was a familiar tale of the Black Cats not making the most of their domination.
The turning point proved to be Seb Larsson’s missed penalty, with Fletcher equalising within a minute and then grabbing a winner to move Wolves away from danger and leaving Sunderland just a place above the drop zone.
Richardson said: “Missing the penalty and them scoring straightaway was upsetting to us.
“We should have defended better for the goal, but it wasn’t to be and hopefully we can put it right next week.
“Neither team are in the top half of the table and there was a lot of pressure on both of us.
“I don’t think the lads were nervous, but there was a lot of pressure. But when you come to Sunderland, you’ve got to be able to handle that.”
The 27-year-old added: “I was pleased to have scored the goal, but I’d have swapped that for a win.
“We’re creating chances, but we’re not taking them at the moment. It’s just not going our way.
“But we’ve said that a lot this season and sometimes you’ve got to draw the line and take responsibility.
“Maybe we should work more on our finishing in training.
“But we’ve got good strikers, we believe in them and as long as we’re creating chances, I’m sure we’ll be all right.”