Give O'Neill a little time
It's fair to say that it hasn't been a splendid week to be a Sunderland fan.
Shipping four goals at home, then not being able to break down a team that started the game with only four points.
Yes, it's not been splendid. Martin O'Neill has stressed recently how important it is that the club is given time to turn things around. While the vast majority of Sunderland fans would wholeheartedly agree with him, time is a funny old thing. As Roberto Di Matteo will probably gladly agree, managers in the Premier League aren't often afforded a great deal of time anymore. Football is a business, and a results-driven one at that. Don't get the results and the money involved is quickly put in jeopardy, something that the people upstairs, above a manager's head, seldom enjoy seeing. In fact, ask a selection of Newcastle fans right now about their opinion of time, and it's unlikely that you will be inundated with claims that Mike Ashley's eightyear deal with Alan Pardew was a stroke of tactical genius. Time, of course, isn't just applicable to how long a manager is in a job.
Unfortunately, at the Stadium of Light recently, it's also becoming the nature of a sweepstake on how long it takes for the Sunderland fans to boo their own players. While the naysayers are still very much in the minority, the ground is quickly becoming a hive of negativity. I have no intention of attacking those who choose to boo their own team, every fan pays for their ticket and has the right to their opinions when it comes to matters on the field, but I would suggest that, for a team having an incredible crisis of confidence, surely vociferous support from the stands would be more beneficial than murmurs groans and ironic cheering levelled at our young stars, but that's just me.
One thing is clear, we are in a bit of a mess, and it is time to get out of it. Sunday sees us take on Norwich at Carrow Road, a ground that all but spelled the end of Steve Bruce's tenure at the Stadium of Light, and we would be hard-pressed to put in a performance as uninspiring and, at times, genuinely frightening as that again this time around. O'Neill needs to rally his troops ahead of this one, and show the world, in front of the Sky Sports cameras, that he is assembling an exciting, fluent attacking team at Sunderland, not the one that took to the park against QPR on Tuesday night. Lee Cattermole's injury certainly hasn't helped the manager's cause, and Jack Colback is struggling to play to the level that we all know he is capable of. Unfortunately for the young man, he set the bar too high for himself, and now has to work hard to try and consistently reach that level again. If there is one position on the field that O'Neill must be looking at ahead of the transfer window then it is central midfield, and although he has Vaughan, Colback, Larsson, Gardner and more at his disposal, a powerful player who can drive the team forward is essential. Some claims on Twitter that this is the ?worst Sunderland team for years' are a long way far of the mark.
It isn't, not at all. Would you rather have Kevin Kilbane than Adam Johnson? Andy Gray than Steven Fletcher? Gary Breen than John O'Shea? No, me neither. It is time, however, for the healing process to begin. The Premier League is so tight that even a small run of victories will catapult a team up the league. Sunderland need to begin that process on Sunday at Carrow Road. While the media may be beginning to suggest that Martin O'Neill's time to shine is running out, we should all remember that all he needs is, well, a little more time.
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