Cuellar, O'Neill key to return
Carlos Cuellar had no hesitation in heading for Sunderland when the opportunity arose to renew his acquaintance with Martin O'Neill.
The 30-year-old Spaniard faced a big decision when his contract at Aston Villa, where he had first worked with the Ulsterman, ran down. However, when Sunderland came calling, the offer to become O'Neill's first permanent signing as Black Cats boss was one he could not ignore. Cuellar said: "Because he was a player, he knows what you're thinking every moment, what you need every moment and he is very good at reading how you are feeling. He gives you everything you need to make sure you give him everything back. There is good communication and that makes it easy." O'Neill arrived at the Stadium of Light last December, with Sunderland in real danger of slipping into an unseemly scrap for Barclays Premier League survival. The initial recovery he inspired was little short of spectacular and, although results slid as injuries hit hard towards the end of the campaign, they comfortably retained their top-flight status. Cuellar added: "He has always had a good season wherever he has been. The way he trains and the way you play with him. It's enjoyable but there is pressure too with him. He gives you a lot of confidence and you are allowed to do everything you want with your skills and the way you play but there is a responsibility on you to work hard."