O'Neill targets toppling Toon
Sunderland boss wants to emulate success as soon as possible
Last Updated: July 29, 2012 2:55pm
Martin O'Neill: Feels Newcastle have upped the ante and wants a response
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill wants to emulate the achievements of rivals Newcastle but admits it's easier said than done.
O'Neill's arrival at the club last December sparked an immediate upturn in fortunes for the Black Cats as they moved well clear of the relegation zone.
But the former Celtic boss could do little to prevent Newcastle stealing the plaudits last season as they claimed a UEFA Europa League spot, as well as an impressive fifth-place finish.
That was the first time since 2008 that the Magpies had finished above the team from the Stadium of Light and O'Neill believes it has raised the stakes in the North East.
"If it hasn't upped the ante, it certainly should do," said O'Neill.
"It was a great season for Newcastle. It might have been unexpected in some quarters, but they signed some very good players and it worked out brilliantly for them.
"It was a really great season. And, of course, that's something that we want to emulate as quickly as we possibly can.
"But it's easier said than done.
"We made some progress last season but the Everton FA Cup defeat probably served as a reality check after we had played so well against the eventual champions Manchester City."
O'Neill does have funds available to help Sunderland climb the table but with owner Ellis Short having seen money squandered by previous managers, the Irishman realises he must spend wisely.
"It's nothing new to me," he added. "It's always a bit of a balancing act.
"We all know what's needed at the football club. The priorities are to get some players in who will make us a better team.
"I am not trying to make a statement with a transfer. I am more interested in signing players who will make an impact. If they make an impact at the football club I would be delighted and so would the players."
"The transfer market has become a much more complicated arena since I have been in management.
"There are now so many more things to take into consideration. It is unrecognisable from 30 years ago - probably even 20 years ago."