Diouf targets top half

Ambitious striker hopes to help Black Cats cause a stir

Diouf: Bad loser

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El Hadji Diouf believes Sunderland have the potential to gatecrash the Premier League's top 10.

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The Senegal international recently completed a move to the Black Cats from another club renowned for their ability to upset the so called 'big boys' - Bolton.

Diouf helped the Trotters establish themselves as a regular top half fixture in the top flight under former boss Sam Allardyce, before seeing the club suffer a major slump last season as they flirted with relegation.

The striker then made it clear that he was keen to leave the Reebok at the end of the 2007/08 campaign, and got his wish when Roy Keane came calling this summer.

Having now settled into his new surroundings at Stadium of Light, Diouf sees no reason why his new side cannot replicate the achievements of his former employers.

Challenge

"I know what this club is capable of, and as long as the players believe in themselves this season, there's no reason why we can't finish in the top 10 or maybe even the top-eight," Diouf said in the Daily Mirror.

"That's what happened when I was at Bolton. Everybody asked me and my family, 'Why has he gone to Bolton?' But we finished fifth or sixth in the first season and I knew that was what we were capable of. Sunderland are in the same position.

"I like a challenge. It's a long time since Sunderland have played European football but why should it not be possible? If Bolton can do it, why shouldn't Sunderland?

"I haven't come here only to play in the Premier League. If you look at the new signings - people like (Pascal) Chimbonda and (Steed) Malbranque - and the lads who have been doing well here for the last couple of years, I am confident we are going to do something special this season.

"That made me very excited to sign. The club needs two or three years to really build itself up.

"But we have to start that process this season and aim to finish in the top eight."

Bad loser

Diouf also revealed that he is looking forward to working under Keane, a man he regularly clashed with on the pitch while the Black Cats boss was at Manchester United.

"I played against him for a number of seasons, and every time he was always so hot on the pitch. I am like that as well.

"I had words with Roy Keane a lot of times. I had words with him when we played against each other in the Carling Cup final. And we also had an argument in a league game at Liverpool when we lost 2-1.

"That was a long time ago, though, and now everything to do with that is finished. I am just happy to be here to be able to learn with him.

"I am similar to Roy Keane because he used to be a bad loser as well. I hate losing just like he did."