Martin O'Neill yesterday launched an impassioned defence of his time at Sunderland and insisted he would be at the club for the long term.
Sunderland have won one of their last 16 games under the former Celtic and Aston Villa manager, a run this season that has seen them score just six goals and drop to within four points of the relegation zone.
However, while there has been questioning of O'Neill in certain quarters for the first time, internally, his position remains strong.
"By hook or by crook I intend to make this team one the supporters are genuinely proud of and feel as if they have a chance of competing," he said. "It's not overnight – I have not completed a season yet – but I intend to do that. I'm sitting here today in early November 2012 and I hope that in a couple of seasons we'll have a really strong team here.
"I want to have a side that not only I'm proud of, but that is also competing; and I don't mean invariably competing, I mean being as strong as Everton are, for instance.
"The one thing I do have, I think, is a little bit of spirit and plenty of determination and I've got a load of enthusiasm.
"It would mean a lot to me to make this a fairly decent football club and I've got a lot of self-belief not to be knocked off course here by a couple of results. I'll put everything into it, anyway, and I've got absolutely no doubt that it'll be good.
"It takes time. It sounds like a defence mechanism and I don't mean it to be the case, but that's the case. I remember being asked when I first arrived 'do you think the club are really in relegation difficulty', well, that morning of the Blackburn game, we dropped into the bottom-three and we might have to go and fight this again.
"I wish it was instantaneous. I wish that everything could just be like that, but it takes a bit of time. People have asked me about the history of the club and how people can feel despondency so very, very quickly, but if that's been the case for 100 years, then please, just give me a couple more months! I'm sitting here now and I'll put a sign out: we WILL compete.
"When I came here first of all, I wish I hadn't supported the team, from that viewpoint. If this situation continues when we're just treading water or are in serious difficulty every year, well, I'm sorry, what's the point me doing it? What's the point?
"I intend to try to change it, but it will not happen overnight. The greatest living manager in the game has had 26 years at Old Trafford and he will tell you that it doesn't happen overnight. By the same token, I don't want Sunderland supporters to be waiting a decade for it."
Sunderland have only registered 12 shots on target all seasonReuse content