Short eyes Black Cats' climb
Sunderland owner and chairman Ellis Short has praised Martin O'Neill for bringing top-six form to the club since his arrival.
The Dallas-based Irish American businessman drafted O'Neill into the Stadium of Light hotseat in December after opting to sack Steve Bruce with the Black Cats embroiled in a relegation battle. O'Neill watched from the stands as Sunderland lost 2-1 against Wolves at Molineux on December 4, before he took full control of team affairs. And, since that defeat the Wearsiders have taken 31 points from a possible 57 to sit in a position of mid-table safety with five matches remaining. However, Short claims the Black Cats can look forward to a much higher-placed finish next season if O'Neill can get the team playing similarly from the first whistle. Writing in his programme notes ahead of the Wolves home game, Short said: "Looking at a league table based on results since Martin took over, we would be in joint-fifth position with Everton, who have played a game more than us in that period. "We have taken 31 points from the 19 league games Martin has overseen. Were that to be repeated over another 19 games representing a full season, we would accumulate 62 points, which last year was enough to reach fifth place. "That's comparable with the sixth position Martin managed to get Aston Villa to in each of his last three seasons in the Barclays Premier League before joining us. "Our aim is to establish ourselves as a club who can regularly finish in the top half of the table and look to climb as high as possible. "You would have to go all the way back to 1955 to find the last time the club finished in the top six, but top-six form is what we have had for the last half of the season, and we are seeking to consolidate this improvement and look to build on it in the seasons to come."