Martin O'Neill

Boss wants points on the board

by Stuart Vose

Manager eyeing milestone as final dozen games loom.

Martin O’Neill is targeting a return to winning ways as his side return to action at West Brom this weekend.

O’Neill has seen his side go three games without a victory following back-to-back wins which lifted the Black Cats into the upper reaches of mid-table.

At this minute it’s not our position that matters so much, it’s the number of points on the board

- Martin O'Neill

The division remains tightly bunched, with only four points separating 13th-placed Sunderland from Stoke City in tenth position.

And O’Neill says a fourth away league win of the season on Saturday would be an ideal way to start the run-in to the end of the campaign.

“It’s still a tight league table, apart from Manchester United who have opened up a big gap at the top,” he said.

“At this minute it’s not our position that matters so much, it’s the number of points on the board.

“I’d like to get past that 30 mark as soon as possible and get back to winning ways.

“After back to back victories I while ago I thought we stuttered against Swansea when we had the chance to make it three on the trot.

“It was a late defeat against Reading and then a very close game with Arsenal. Now we start the final run-in.”

Sunderland may have suffered back-to-back defeats in their last two outings, but the Black Cats came close to claiming a point in both games.

And O’Neill says his side needs to start turning the “fine margins” in their favour to climb up towards the 40-point mark and beyond.

“We were disappointed to lose the game [against Reading] at the end,” he explained. “We had chances to win it before Reading scored the goal.

“Those are the fine margins which are the difference between putting extra points on the board and looking over your shoulder.

“The sooner we get those extra points, the sooner we can breathe a bit easier.”