Soton v SAFC

Manager's Boxing Day preview

by Stuart Vose

Boss looks ahead to City clash.

Martin O’Neill is looking forward to pitting his wits against Roberto Mancini when Manchester City visit the Stadium of Light on Boxing Day.

O’Neill came out on top in the fixture last season as Sunderland won 1-0 thanks to a late goal from Ji Dong-won.

The Sunderland boss is hoping for a similar outcome this time around but has warned his side to expect an extremely difficult festive challenge.

“It was a terrific effort last season – the spirit was fantastic and there’s still plenty of that here, as we showed at the weekend,” he said.

“We’ll need spirit and plenty more besides to prevent Manchester City from getting on the scoresheet.”

He added: “They are a top-quality team who won the title last season and will be there or thereabouts again.

“City have some great players at their disposal and we’ll have to utilise everything we have here to try and eke out a result.

“We did well to win here last season and then played probably our best football of the season in the 3-3 draw down there.

“That said, they beat us convincingly early in the season after getting an early goal. That settled them down.

“They played very well that day and are capable of dominating for long periods.”

Meanwhile O’Neill admitted to being bowled over by the club’s support at Southampton last weekend.

Just under 2,000 members of the red and white army made the long trip to the south coast three days before Christmas – something O’Neill admitted he found “incredible”.

“In one of my early fixtures last year we had a major turn-out at QPR just a couple of days before Christmas,” he added.

“Southampton is a long, long journey three days before Christmas and the support was phenomenal.

“I was naturally delighted to win the game, but even more so because the supporters had come such a long way.”