After it, they were being discussed admiringly in the same breath as Chelsea and Manchester City.
Nothing does more to change attitudes and shift perceptions in football than a
win, but even in the helter-skelter world of the
Martin O’Neill has been in the game a long time, he has seen and done most things as a player or manager, but he had never gone 12 league games without a win before.
It was a horrible statistic, the sort that is often used to justify the
sacking of a manager, but now that run has come to an end, the focus falls
on the fact
With two wins out of two in the Capital One Cup to stretch their unbeaten
start to seven games, Sunderland suddenly have the look of predators, not
prey. They travel to
“It really was important to win the game just to turn things around,” said O’Neill. “I don’t mind people quoting the stats – it’ll be one in 13 now. This is a new season, it’s not a continuation of the last, not that you would have believed it.
“Only three teams are unbeaten this season, I hadn’t looked at it like that.
Well, I did really, because I was told it was Manchester City and
Sunderland were, perhaps for the first time this season, a little fortunate
O’Neill’s side were not in sync as an attacking force and only got to grips with Wigan’s fluid football when Jordi Gómez was sent off for a lunge on Danny Rose three minutes into the second half.
They scored with their next attack and while Steven Fletcher’s finish was emphatic — five shots on target and five goals for their £12m striker is another attention-grabbing statistic — the ball only came to him via a mis-hit shot from James McClean and was their only clear goalscoring opportunity.
As for Wigan, Roberto Martínez was right to see many positives in his team’s performance, but they are slipping back into familiar territory towards the bottom of the table with just four points from six games.
“We are ready to become more than a team that just fights relegation” said Martínez. “But we have to work on not feeling sorry for ourselves. When the red card was shown, for five or six minutes we were on the floor. Sunderland took advantage and scored.”