Sunderland must play well in both halves to keep out of relegation trouble, says Niall Quinn

O'Neill: the Ulsterman's side lie just outside the relegation places

Niall Quinn hopes Sunderland's 2-1 defeat to Norwich acts as a wake-up call in their battle to steer clear of the relegation zone.

The Black Cats' 2-1 reverse at Carrow Road was their fourth defeat in six Premier League matches and left them one point and one place above the bottom three, albeit with a game in hand.

Read our match report here

Former Sunderland player and chairman Quinn watched the contest unfold in the Sky Sports studio and was left nonplussed by Martin O'Neill's side's first-half display.

But he says the positive football they played in the second period, in which they laid siege to Norwich 'keeper Mark Bunn's goal, will show the Sunderland players what they are capable of when at their best.

"You can't give teams a 44 minute start in the toughest league in the world, and Sunderland need to switch their attitude and quick."

Niall Quinn

"It is a travesty for Sunderland that they haven't got anything from the game but it's a self-inflicted travesty as we are not talking about referees, linesmen, or decisions," said the ex-striker.

Penetrative

"We are talking about a team that for 45 minutes were on the back foot, gave way too much respect to their counterparts, didn't want to go forward and were negative in everything they did.

"But they then, perhaps undeservedly, got a lifeline just before half time (when Craig Gardner reduced their deficit to 2-1), and in the second half they were streets ahead of Norwich.

"Sunderland had penetrative moves on both wings through Adam Johnson and James McClean, who were excellent. They were going by people, which is what they are in the team for, while Gardner looked like a player and Sebastian Larsson did his stuff.

"So I hope the players are not going back with their headphones on and are instead talking to each other and wondering why it took them 45 minutes to get into the game - and why they don't start like that second-half performance in every game.

"You can't give teams a 44 minute start in the toughest league in the world, and Sunderland need to switch their attitude and quick, because they are too near the bottom, but I think Martin has a good chance of getting his side out of this situation and kicking on again."

Settled

Norwich's triumph was their fourth home win on the spin, a run that has included victories over Premier League heavyweights Arsenal and Manchester United, and they have risen to 12th in the table.

The Canaries' early-season struggles, in which they failed to register a win in their first seven fixtures and shipped five goals in a match on two occasions, have long been forgotten, and former Norwich boss Nigel Worthington heaped praise on current City chief Chris Hughton.

"The first seven games were about finding their feet as Chris was new and had bought in a lot of new players, said Worthington, in charge at Carrow Road between 2000-06. "Things didn't start well but Chris is very calm and kept his nerve and guided the players through.

Hughton - We had to dig deep

"He now has a settled team and that has bred confidence and results, and they are taking points of very good teams, and 19 points at this stage of the season is very healthy.

"Paul Lambert was of the mind-set that if Norwich score three the opposition had to score four, whereas Chris has come in and really tightened things up and they are winning games by scoring one or two goals.

"I think anybody will have to be wary coming to Carrow Road as Norwich can beat anyone here, what with the form they are in and the way they are approaching games.

"I think they can finish in the top half but they've got to keep their feet on the ground."