SUNDERLAND boss Martin O’Neill has warned fans expecting him to stamp his mark on the team with a flurry of January signings not to get their hopes up, because he hasn’t even considered it.
O’Neill was appointed a fortnight ago and charged with the task of getting an under-performing Sunderland to start punching their weight. Last week’s 2-1 win over Blackburn at the Stadium of Light was a step in the right direction but as the January window approaches, it looks increasingly likely that O’Neill will just have to make do with what he has.
Either club owner Ellis Short has told him that there is no money in the transfer budget following previous boss Steve Bruce’s summer splurge, or that no one who fits O’Neill’s vision for the team has been made available.
Whatever the reason, the Black Cats manager says that January might be a quieter month than expected.
He said: “I genuinely have not considered signings for January. The games are coming so quickly, there’s no point in pushing me on it. If nothing happens in January I won’t be emphasising the issue. We’ll try and see it through if we can, if something develops then something will develop.”
O’Neill will this week speak with striker Asamoah Gyan who is currently out on loan to Dubai-based club Al-Ain. He added: “I’ve got Asamoah’s number and should have called him a couple of days ago. I’ll do that, just to introduce myself.”
O’Neill will plough on with what he has at his immediate disposal which could mean another start for Connor Wickham – who impressed on his return from injury against Blackburn – against Tottenham at White Hart Lane tomorrow.
O’Neill continued: “We have Wickham – it’s good to have someone like that. For him to play last week was great for everyone, it gave everyone a lift. That was really encouraging. We’ll see what develops. He played the game yesterday, just trying to get that extra fitness. If things work out we’re hoping that the players who have had issues will get fit and can stay fit. I was delighted with Wickham, particularly against a physical Blackburn side.” Despite the daunting task of going down to North London to face a Tottenham side who have genuine title aspirations, O’Neill insists his men will go into tomorrow’s game with a positive attitude.
He said: “With the victory (against Blackburn last week) giving us a wee bit of confidence, I think we should go and be really positive at Tottenham.
“I genuinely don’t think I’ve tried to be anything other than that in my time in management. Apart from in a cup final way back when we man-marked Juninho (1997 League Cup Final between Leicester and Middlesbrough). If you had seen him a fortnight before running riot at Filbert Street, only a fool would have chosen not to man-mark him. I just think we have to be really positive in the game.
“We will get opportunities to attack and we’ll have to make the most of those. I don’t want to spend most of the time in and around our penalty area.”