Simon Mignolet has admitted Sunderland’s players had not been worried about the position of Martin O’Neill after a run of two wins from 23 Premier League games was ended with victory against Reading on Tuesday night.
Owner Ellis Short had given further backing to O’Neill before the game and Mignolet has revealed the support runs through the playing staff at the Stadium of Light.
“In the dressing room nobody thought even about those kind of things and I think the gaffer’s done a great job last season and he’s doing that still,” he said. “He gives all the players a lot of confidence to go out and play and even in awkward situations we can do that. All the lads were confident stepping out onto the pitch (against Reading) and that’s the main thing when you are in that position. We were very confident we were going to win.
“Before the game, we knew it was going to be a massive game. We knew there was a lot of pressure on it. We scored the early goal which made it a bit easier for us and meant they had to come at us and we could defend our lead and to score the second goal just before half time was the perfect scenario. Three goals, clean sheet, three points you can’t ask for anything more.
“We all knew how important it was, we’re professional enough to deal with that and scoring the early goal made things much easier. We made sure we didn’t concede the goal and earned the three points which is the most important thing and the main job.
“Relief probably sums up the feeling in the dressing room. There were some pretty tired legs in there afterwards because the lads got through a lot of work. We’d forgotten how to win so we didn’t know how to celebrate afterwards! On the other hand we were very happy.
“I’m pleased for all the lads, that’s the main thing when you play at home if everybody does the basics you’ve always got a chance to win the game. With all the games coming thick and fast over Christmas, this was a massive game at home. We knew it was important.”
Sunderland face Manchester United, Southampton, Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool in their next five games.