Martin O'Neill targets success at Sunderland


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The Independent Football

Martin O'Neill is determined to transform Sunderland's fortunes as he takes charge at the Stadium of Light today.

O'Neill watched his new team slide to 17th place in the Barclays Premier League after losing 2-1 to Wolves at Molineux yesterday.

Two goals from Steven Fletcher eased the pressure on Wolves boss Mick McCarthy after Sunderland had gone ahead through Kieran Richardson and then seen Sebastian Larsson squander a penalty.

O'Neill signed a three-year deal on Saturday and the former Leicester, Celtic and Aston Villa manager is excited to be back in the game.

"It's a nice feeling to be back in football and obviously I'm very excited about joining Sunderland," he told SAFC TV.

"It's a big moment and I'm hoping it works out well.

"Naturally I want to do well for the fans, the team and myself. If we can combine all this and start winning football matches it would be terrific.

"All I can say, without promising the earth, moon and stars is I will do my utmost to bring a bit of success to Sunderland."

He added: "I would like it to be a really successful period and I'm going to try my best to achieve that. That's what I've come for - that's what I want to do."

Eric Black, who has been serving as Sunderland's caretaker boss, is convinced the managerial skills of the Irishman and the quality players at his disposal will revive the Black Cats.

Black said: "Martin will have seen the strengths that we have. I think he knows there are some good things to take forward, but I think he'll also know that there are some problems.

"I'm sure he'll start trying to rectify those problems, and I'm sure he'll be able to start turning things around."

Wolves registered only their second win in 12 games to climb four points clear of the bottom three, with Fletcher now having netted 10 times in his last 15 league appearances.

McCarthy said: "Fletcher has been terrific in front of goal when he has been fit and he proved again what a valuable asset he is to the team.

"He has been prolific for us and that's why we signed him. He's had impact injuries, not strains, but injuries he can't help or avoid.

"He's had a bad ankle, and he got done with his knee. If we can keep him fit he's a terrific player."

McCarthy opted to drop skipper and centre-back Roger Johnson, with his replacement, Jody Craddock, impressing before suffering a hamstring strain.

McCarthy said: "It hasn't been turning to gold for Roger. After three games I think everybody was universal with the praise he was getting and we were getting for signing him.

"But I've been there as a player and sometimes it just doesn't happen for you and the harder you try, the worse it gets.

"He had an own goal at Liverpool which didn't help and things just seemed to conspire against him. When that happens it's up to me to change it."