MARTIN O’Neill has admitted a draw at Fulham tomorrow would not be good enough for his struggling Sunderland side.
Under normal circumstances, a point against Martin Jol’s improving side at Craven Cottage would be seen as anything but a bad result.
But Sunderland’s statistics don’t get any better as the weeks go on, and the defeat last Saturday at Everton kept the Black Cats on just a single Premier League win out of 11 matches for this season.
O’Neill said: “We need to win some games.
“It’s all very well that we played well at Everton, but eventually you have to win games.
“We will go to Fulham in really decent spirits.
“Fulham themselves are going very well, but I don’t think there is added pressure on us. We just want to try and win.
“So far in the league, we have played 11 games and seven of them have been away from home. That in-balance will straighten itself and it would be nice to be back at the Stadium of Light.
“Even with our run at the moment we are not that far removed from clubs above us, but it is all ifs, buts and maybes. We need some points on the board. The players can take some consolation from decent performances, but the most important issue is winning and we lost the game at Everton.
“There is a group of teams gathered there around us and there isn’t a lot of
points that separate us. But we talk about it every week that we need to win matches, and the sooner the better.” Sunderland have a few unwanted selection problems ahead of their trip to the Capital.
Phil Bardsley may return after missing last week, but captain Lee Cattermole is a doubt, while Craig Gardner is out through suspension. Steven Fletcher should start, but is not 100%.
Fulham have been one of the best teams in this season’s Premier League and earned a 3-3 draw at Arsenal last weekend.
They have impressed O’Neill, especially in the way they coped with losing two key men in Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele during the summer transfer window.
The Sunderland manager said: “They are a good side and have been a good side for some time.
“He (Jol) has brought in some players so the loss of, let’s say, Dembele seemed to be covered up reasonably well.
“Berbatov has given them a goalscoring threat. He is playing very well and is a top quality player who cost Manchester United £33million a few seasons ago. He was unable to stay in the side with the competition at Manchester United so a move away from Old Trafford seems to have reinvigorated him.”
Sunderland at least scored a goal last week at Everton in what was an improved display.
O’Neill hopes this will offer is attacking players some much needed encouragement.
He said: “Scoring the goal was very important. I don’t care who you are as the very best players can lose confidence
“When you are a forward player, your contribution is measured on if you are scoring or making goals and in time the flair players in our team will come good and we will turn it round.”