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The Black Cats owner has praised the former Aston Villa manager for sparking a series of impressive displays since taking over from Steve Bruce over four months ago

Sunderland chairman Ellis Short has praised Martin O’Neill in turning his club’s season around within such a short period of time.

Short appointed O’Neill in December after the departure of Steve Bruce following a series of poor performances, and he has since moved the club away from the relegation zone and turned them into top-10 contenders

Writing in his programme notes, Short praised the boss: "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 Premier League before joining us."

Short is very clear when talking about his ambitions for the club, with the Black Cats owner even talking about his side breaking into the top-six.

"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."

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