MARTIN O’Neill admits pre-season preparations were far from ideal for Sunderland as he looks back at a schizophrenic year for the Black Cats.
The year began on a high and a fine FA Cup run suggested the Black Cats could be on the verge of something special – before defeat to Everton and a disappointing start to this campaign ensured more realistic expectations heading into 2013.
O’Neill scoffs at suggestions the Toffees defeat has shaped the year and instead looks at a trip to South Korea which was in the diary long before he took over as a possible reason for Sunderland’s early-season lethargy.
It appears pretty obvious it is a money-spinning trip which will not be repeated on his watch.
He also reckons searching for excuses is pretty pointless given Sunderland’s current predicament. He said: “I don’t think that has anything to do with the two seasons. You start again the next year.
“Preparations this season? If I could, I would do it differently now.
“A trip arranged to Korea two days just after we’d come back for pre-season. That was already in place.
“It’s not the point, that is beside the point.
“You can talk until you’re blue in the face about these things, it doesn’t really matter.
“We are where we are. People made a lot about the fact we missed out in our home game against Reading. Well we’ve won that game.
“So, on reflection, the Everton thing . . . when was it? March? Or April?
“Not for me, you can’t turn around and say . . . no, it’s rather fanciful to think that.”