O'Neill - 'Bite Yer Nails Time'!

05 February 2013 07:57
Martin O'Neill says Sunderland's match preparations have been hit hard because he has 11 players on international duty this week.

Involving Sunderland's first team, they have James McClean, John O’Shea and Keiren Westwood involved in the Republic of Ireland’s game against Poland at the Aviva Stadium.

Seb Larsson is expected to start in the game against Argentina in Solna the same night, and David Vaughan will hope to be involved in Wales’s game against Austria in Swansea.

Phil Bardsley has a chance of playing in Scotland’s home game against Estonia, and Simon Mignolet will be taking part in Belgium’s World Cup qualifier against Slovakia.

Martin O’Neill: “It is difficult.

“We have a word with the players before they head away on international duty, but it is not easy.

“It isn’t quite so bad if the players have won a game before the international break, but if they’ve lost a game, you really want to be working with them during the week.

“It’s far from ideal for us, and I’ve welcomed talk of not holding so many friendly internationals during the course of subsequent seasons.

“But the one thing that you can’t deny is that it is pretty much the same for the majority of clubs in the Premier League – we aren’t the only one in the position of having so many players away.”


February 2013 Sat 09 15:00 H Arsenal  Sat 23 15:00 A West Bromwich Albion   March 2013 Sat 02 15:00 H Fulham    Sat 09 15:00 A Queens Park Rangers    Sun 17 13:30 H Norwich City    Sat 30 12:45 H Manchester United    April 2013 Sat 06 15:00 A Chelsea    Sat 13 13:30 A Newcastle United    Sat 20 15:00 H Everton    Sat 27 15:00 A Aston Villa    May 2013 Sat 04 15:00 H Stoke City    Sun 12 15:00 H Southampton    Sun 19 16:00 A Tottenham Hotspur   


22. Simon Mignolet 4. Alfred N'Diaye 19. Titus Bramble 16. John O'Shea 14. Jack Colback 7. Sebastian Larsson 46' 8. Craig Gardner 15. David Vaughan 62' 21. Adam Johnson 26. Steven Fletcher 28. Stephane Sessegnon 79'

Subs: 20. Keiren Westwood 2. Phil Bardsley 3. Danny Rose 46' 9. Danny Graham 79' 10. Connor Wickham 18. Kader Mangane 23. James McClean 62'

Sunderland fell to a late goal at the Madejski Stadium . but they were just one of a long line of clubs to suffer late in the game in recent weeks.

So what makes Reading the new Man Utd, picking up points in the dying seconds of a match?

More committment? Fitter players? Any suggestions anybody? Because Martin O'Neill could do with some tips.

Two-goal Jimmy Kebe (pictured right) was the Reading hero of the day, rather than the usual "Supersub" Adam Le Fondre. A late victory over West Brom last month and a brace from Le Fondre in a 2-2 draw against Chelsea in midweek had seen the Royals make a great start to 2013 and that continued at Sunderland's expense.

Kebe struck twice to book-end a game that had little quality on show as the Berkshire club opened up a two-point cushion on the Barclays Premier League bottom three.

A first-half Craig Gardner penalty looked for a long time like it would be enough for the Black Cats to claim a point but Martin O'Neill's side left the Madejski Stadium empty-handed.

Reading took the lead with the first meaningful attack of the game when Jobi McAnuff reached the byline before pulling the ball across to an unmarked Kebe, who controlled well before firing past Simon Mignolet.

The visitors failed to test Adam Federici in the Reading goal until the 24th minute. Alfred N'Diaye brushed off a couple of challenges before shooting low at the Australian, who could only push the ball into the path of the onrushing Sebastian Larsson but Federici was quickly back to his feet to keep out the follow-up.

Sunderland did not have to wait long to be gifted a chance to draw level.

Captain John O'Shea was chasing a clearance as Pavel Pogrebnyak slid in and brought the former Manchester United man down inside the area.

The foul was missed by referee Lee Mason but not by his assistant Simon Beck, who received heavy criticism from Sir Alex Ferguson last month - which has landed the United boss in hot water with the Football Association - and Gardner thumped the resulting penalty past Federici.

Reading almost regained their lead five minutes before the break as Pogrebnyak climbed to head Ian Harte's free-kick towards goal, only for Mignolet to claw the ball to safety.

It was the home side who returned from the interval as the brighter team with Harte's low free-kick palmed into the path of Pogrebnyak by Mignolet and the Russian striker crossed towards Alex Pearce, who could not get his header on target.

Pogrebnyak was involved again moments later as his clever touch sent the ball through the legs of his marker and into McAnuff, who was upended by David Vaughan.

Harte's free-kick cracked into the wall as the Royals looked to capitalise on a strong start to the half.

Despite their side being on top in the game the Reading fans soon started to sing for Adam Le Fondre to be introduced from the bench and Brian McDermott obliged, replacing Garath McCleary with the in-form frontman.

New signing Nick Blackman replaced Pogrebnyak with a little over 15 minutes remaining to partner Le Fondre but it was Adrian Mariappa who almost put Reading back in front.

Another set-piece from experienced full-back Harte saw Mariappa get in front of his man but his header came back off the crossbar.

Sunderland's debutant Danny Graham was the next player brought on to try to find a winner - but it was N'Diaye who should have given the visitors the lead with just 10 minutes left on the clock, only to fire wildly wide wide after he had been played in by Adam Johnson down the right flank.

Graham almost endeared himself to the Sunderland fans just minutes after coming on but his header was tipped over by Federici.

Sunderland were now looking the most likely to score a dramatic winner but Reading have made it their trademark of late and they struck again with five minutes remaining.

Once again Sunderland's defence could not deal with a Harte free-kick, as the former Republic of Ireland defender thrashed the ball to the back post where Kebe rose to head Reading back in front.

The Royals saw out the remainder of the game to move clear of Wigan and Aston Villa, who could only manage draws in their respective encounters.

Phillips added that he was looking to take on a coaching role after his playing career finishes.

Pos Team P GD Pts 1 Man Utd 25 29 62 2 Man City 25 26 53 3 Chelsea 25 24 46 4 Tottenham 25 13 45 5 Everton 25 10 42 6 Arsenal 25 20 41 7 Liverpool 25 12 36 8 Swansea 25 6 34 9 West Brom 25 -1 34 10 Stoke 25 -6 30 11 West Ham 25 -8 30 12 Sunderland 25 -5 29 13 Fulham 25 -6 28 14 Norwich 25 -15 28 15 Newcastle 25 -11 27 16 Southampton 25 -11 24 17 Reading 25 -14 23 18 Wigan 25 -18 21 19 Aston Villa 25 -26 21 20 QPR 25 -19 17



Source: Sunderland-Mad