NEW Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill insists he does not fear the challenge of fulfilling expectation on Wearside.
The 59-year-old will send his side out for the first time against Blackburn on Sunday knowing they are flirting with a Barclays Premier League relegation battle.
That is a far cry from the situation envisaged by either chairman and owner Ellis Short when he allowed predecessor Steve Bruce to drastically overhaul the squad during the summer after a top-10 finish, or the club's fans.
O'Neill said: "In this day and age clubs of this size would want to have some sort of expectation.
"It would be nice, it would be great to have some sort of ambition.
"I just don't know, but the idea of wanting to have ambition, it doesn't scare me. In fact, that's the sort of thing that would spur you on.
"Peter Reid twice finished seventh and last season under Steve they finished 10th. This is the fifth year now of Premier League football, so there's a foundation there.
"What you would like to do if it's at all possible is to try to push on."