A run of just one win in 18 matches had increased the pressure on Wearside, despite O'Neill's constant insistence that it would turn around. And at Craven Cottage on Sunday, Sunderland finally claimed three points and found the net with a degree of regularity even if Fulham had been reduced to ten men because of Brede Hangeland's first half dismissal. The outcome brought significant relief and prevented the Black Cats from ending the weekend level on points with Aston Villa, occupants of the third and final relegation place.
"It will make this week a lot nicer than a lot of the previous ones and we will try to build on this," said Cattermole.
"The club will get a massive lift from this. It was great for the gaffer. The stats don't lie and before Sunday it was one win in 18 games.
"We owed the manager and ourselves a result. We have two home games now - against West Brom and QPR - and that's where we will be looking to pick up more points.
"We are hoping this win can get a run started. But we won't take any game lightly and West Brom are a proper side, but hopefully we can stop them next Saturday."
While it took Sunderland until Hangeland's dismissal to get going Cattermole suggested there had been indications in the run up to the trip to Fulham of a return to winning ways.
"The one thing was that I felt we were performing every week and hadn't hugely struggled," said Cattermole.
"We were losing by the odd goal or two. "There are some teams who have a much bigger goal-difference than us, so nobody has given us a thrashing. We will keep going and I genuinely feel we will get stronger."
Perhaps the most pleasing thing from a Sunderland perspective was the manner in which they completed the win. A team that has struggled to find the net this season was able to build on Steven Fletcher's opener with Carlos Cuellar and Stephane Sessegnon's first goals of the season. Sessegnon had gone 22 games without scoring at club level and there had been calls for the Benin international to be dropped after a number of lacklustre displays. After finally finding the net the £6m forward has been backed to recapture his best in Sunderland's attempts to climb the table. Cattermole said:
"The three goals will give each of those players a major boost, especially Sessegnon who really deserved his goal. He's worked really hard on the training ground every week.
"He has got better and better this season. I thought he was brilliant at Goodison Park last week and he got his reward on Sunday. Sess has been more like himself. He's proof that if you work day-in, day-out in training then things will happen for you come the weekend. He scored a terrific goal and I'm sure he can build on that."
Cattermole bore the brunt of Hangeland's studs high challenge which ended with the Norwegian defender being shown the red card. The Sunderland skipper, often the man picking up the cards, felt the dismissal was justified and was just satisfied to have come through the game unscathed.
"I got caught in the ankle, but I'm fine," said Cattermole, who had been a major doubt with a knee problem beforehand.
"My knee has been bothering me and I didn't train all week. I did some running on Saturday and told the gaffer I would be available.
"I'll do some training this week and get a bit fitter. There was no way I was going to miss such a massive game. That was a big three points, not just for the players, but for the whole football club, including the fans."
German club Augsburg, meanwhile, are in discussions with Sunderland aimed at taking out-of-favour South Korean striker Ji Dong-Won on loan in January.