New Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill admits he faces a tough task to turn around Sunderland’s fortunes and steer them clear of the relegation zone as Paddy Power announce a free £100 football bet offer for Sunday.
Former manager Steve Bruce was shown the door after a disastrous run of results that saw the Black Cats pick up just two wins in their first 13 games of the season, and now O’Neill, who left his last club, Aston Villa, in acrimonious circumstance after walking out on them on the eve of the 2010/11 season, has been charged with restoring the wearside club to their former glory.
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O’Neill was present at Molineux for Sunderland’s 2-1 defeat against Wolves on Sunday, and the Northern Irishman admits that his first job in charge is to rebuild his squad’s confidence.
“Confidence is not at its highest. It just ebbed away [against Wolves] and they conceded the late goal.
“But there is very good spirit among the players. There is an energy in this football club and an obvious passion.”
He added: “Obviously we are in a little bit of trouble at the moment. We have been losing games and we could have had a few more points on the board,” O’Neill said.
“Sunday’s game is very important for us. The players are aware of that and we just need to start winning some matches. The sooner we can do that the better.”
O’Neill’s first game in charge comes courtesy of a relegation battle against Blackburn, whose boss Steve Kean also appears to be on the brink of losing his job.
Connor Wickham, Craig Gordon, Frazier Campbell all remain on the sidelines thanks to long-term injuries and will play no part in the game, while Simon Mingolet is also a doubt for the game.
Kean faces no fresh injury complaints, with Ryan Nelson, Vincent Grella and Martin Olsson the only absentees.