Sunderland owner hails O'Neill

We will look to build on this, says Short

Martin O'Neill: Has turned Sunderland's season around and earned the praise of the Black Cats owner

Sunderland owner and chairman Ellis Short has praised the impact of manager Martin O'Neill in bringing "top-six form" to the club.

Short axed Steve Bruce and installed O'Neill in his place back in December with the Black Cats flirting with relegation from the Premier League.

But a remarkable run of seven wins from his first 10 games in charge propelled Sunderland up the league.

Things have fallen flat of late with Saturday's goalless draw against bottom club Wolves making it four games without a win for O'Neill's side.

But Short is full of praise for the job the 60-year-old manager has done.

Writing in his programme notes ahead of the Wolves game, Short said: "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.

"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."