The Black Cats boss is ready to shake-up the Wearside club in the summer and admits concern over Irish defender John O'Shea's readiness for Euro 2012Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill promised changes at the Stadium of Light this summer after seeing his team beaten 1-0 by deposed Premier League champions Manchester United.
O’Neill’s men have won just twice in their last 15 outings and the Black Cats boss admitted that there is plenty of room for improvement on Wearside.
“Next season starts now for me. You can see clearly that we have got some work to do and let’s see what happens. I will take a little bit of time to reflect on it but we will try to get back to work as quickly as possible,” O’Neill told reporters.
“I have been absolutely delighted with the team. The season has gone now and maybe on reflection to FA Cup game against Everton did have an effect on us but I am delighted that we will be plying our trade in this division again next year and that is all I could ask for.
“I am not here to make excuses. We are where we are. We finished off the season and we didn’t win too many games and there might have been subconsciously an easing-off after we got past the winning post in terms of staying up. But I have been delighted with the effort of the team and we have lot of improvement to make. That is the nature of the game.”
O’Neill, who said he “chose not to pick” on-loan Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner, also expressed concern over Republic of Ireland defender John O’Shea’s fitness as Euro 2012 looms.
“He did not feel comfortable today and he was starting to feel his injury so he did not feel confident at all," he added. “As he came off, it was my thought that there might be a concern about him but haven’t had chance to check with the physios since. It might be a concern.”
O’Neill backed Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson to bounce back from losing the title to Manchester City, after a last-gasp win over QPR at the Etihad sealed the league for Roberto Mancini's men.
“This was a harrowing way to lose the title but it will only increase Sir Alex’s determination. I don’t think he will allow Manchester City to become so dominant. He will do something about that,” O’Neill said.
“It is so, so close. There is nothing in it at the top and over the season there hasn’t been much to choose between the two of them. Manchester City have a very strong squad and they have taken the title. It doesn’t matter whether it is on goal difference, a couple of points or 20 points. So well done them.
“He might be just coming into my office for a minute or two and I am dreading going into the room. He will be bitterly disappointed because this would have been a sensational year for him to have won the title and while he has won so many I would have thought he would have lost count this is one he will so disappointed at losing.
"I shook his hand at the end of the game as you would do and then we were waiting around to hear the news and suddenly it happened.”