O'Neill: Black Cats need goals
Martin O'Neill will take charge of his first match as Sunderland manager when fellow Premier League strugglers Blackburn Rovers visit the Stadium of Light tomorrow.
The Black Cats are just a point in front of Rovers, who are themselves in the relegation zone. O'Neill has a reputation for galvanising faltering teams and it his man-management skills, as much as his tactical appreciation, which persuaded Sunderland chairman Ellis Short he was the man for the job after the American sacked Steve Bruce.
His record at Leicester City, Celtic and Aston Villa has made O'Neill one of the most sought-after managers in British football. Add in the fact he was a boyhood Sunderland fan and it is easy to see why many of the north east club's fans believe O'Neill is the right man for the job.
But the fact the Black Cats have scored just 16 goals in 14 league games so far this season suggests it is Sunderland's strikers, rather than the supporters, who are most in need of O'Neill's immediate attention.
"It's been particularly hectic," said O'Neill of his first week on Wearside. "It's trying to get to know players, backroom staff, and they likewise with me. But the excitement is still there, obviously building up to Sunday's game, and I'm looking forward to it immensely.
"There has always seemed to be a good atmosphere around the place, I just think it's a little bit of confidence that has been lost.
"We have to address the goalscoring situation, obviously, and as soon as possible. The backroom staff have been telling me that we have been creating chances in games but have been unable to put them away.
"It puts an awful lot of pressure then to try to keep a clean sheet, which is pretty difficult these days," the former Northern Ireland midfielder added.