VICTORY over Queens Park Rangers on Saturday took Sunderland into eighth place in the Premier League – just two points behind Liverpool.
But Martin O’Neill was more focused on the significance of the result in terms of what it meant for Sunderland looking down the table, rather than up.
The win took the Black Cats up to the magical 40-point mark – the point at which teams can begin to prepare confidently for another season in the Premier League.
And although Sunderland’s ambitions are now higher than that, the manager has not forgotten that that was the over-riding priority when he first took over in December.
“I’m delighted to have won the game because it keeps the momentum going and, of course, sees us reach 40 points,” he said. “In December, I would have settled for 40 points by the end of the season. In fact, I would have snatched your arm off for it!
“So, to get it now, before the end of March, is absolutely terrific.
“I’m very pleased with that and delighted we’ve won.
“Some of the goals we’ve scored in the game were excellent and, overall, it was a very good display.
“We set about it the right way and it was a good goal to get us on our way.
“Nicklas Bendtner was disappointed with his performance against Blackburn midweek – particularly the chance to score where he just thought he had to steer it in.
“But he’s made up for that with his goal against QPR, because he still had a job to do when the ball got to him.”
The result provides the perfect platform for Sunderland to go into tomorrow night’s cup quarter-final replay against Everton – something O’Neill acknowledged afterwards.
“It’s a win which sets us up nicely for the game against Everton – confidence-wise at least,” he said.