Sunderland boss longs for the day of an even keel

AN unapologetic Martin O’Neill is hoping for the day when Sunderland can face Tottenham Hotspur on equal terms.

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill
Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill

AN unapologetic Martin O’Neill is hoping for the day when Sunderland can face Tottenham Hotspur on equal terms.

The Black Cats manager argued the respective resources of the teams dictated a defensive strategy which frustrated Saturday’s opponents in a 0-0 draw.

But with a game at Everton today, and none of Spurs’ squad depth, he felt it was the right course of action.

“Harry (Redknapp, Tottenham’s manager) would know he is in for a tough afternoon here and that is what we wanted,” he said. “I heard they were frustrated. Well, we had to play strongly. We don’t have the same resources at this moment. Hopefully at some stage in our development that might happen..

“We didn’t break with the same brilliance as the previous week (at Manchester City), but we were still a threat.

“James McClean was up against one of the very best full-backs playing in the league at the moment (Kyle Walker) but Tottenham had a man doubling in behind him so we were frustrated because he couldn’t get in behind him. If he had done, McClean has the beating of just about every full-back in the league.”

O’Neill mischievously added: “I haven’t seen Harry yet but I shall go down to the room and complain about him doubling up on James McClean, I am really unhappy with him – very, very unhappy he has done that.

“Imagine seeing our threat and realising he had to do something about it?!” Without the same talent, Sunderland had to rely on graft. No one epitomised it more than captain Lee Cattermole. “I thought he was great,” said the manager.

“Overall it was a great effort and the crowd really appreciated that effort too.

“He is really important setting the tone. You look across in envy at their bench and players they can bring on of real quality.

“We have to develop ourselves and play with heart and soul as much as anything to gain points against sides who are, with respect to us, more talented.

“I am hoping we will be able to parade a team as good as them.”


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