Date: 26th September 2008 at 3:36pm
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In what seems to be a new feature on the official site, Martin O’Neill has given a pep talk preview ahead of the Sunderland match.

I say new feature, but he could’ve been doing this since he arrived at the club – I’m not the most observant.

Anyway, O’Neill has called for the team to put Wednesday’s Deja vu behind them and build on our league form, he always praised the team for taking four points from a possible six so far on home soil.

‘We have to go out there – put the disappointment of Wednesday to one side – and go and try and win the game.

‘We now have to focus on the excellent league form. The Premier League is the be-all-and-end-all in the grand scheme of things anyway.

‘Other than the QPR game, I have been pleased with our home form.

‘We have picked up four points in two games. Liverpool was a bit of a chess match in the end but we were blistering against Manchester City.

‘In the two European games, I thought Ashley’s goal against Odense was worthy of winning any game while, with the match almost won against FH, it was always going to be a bit of a tame affair.

‘Generally, I have been very happy with our home form.’

Generally we can be pleased with our form overall, it’s just grating and frustrating that we still see hiccups against teams we should be beating.

That consistency or lack thereof, cost us last season. The same mental block has cost us the Carling Cup already and 3 pts against Stoke – although given the circumstances you can forgive the Stoke result somewhat.

Anyway back to Sunderland, O’Neill also believes we will see a different sort of Sunderland this time round. Last season was consolidation and survival for them, but this time round O’Neill thinks Sunderland will have ‘a different agenda’ to the one of previous seasons.

‘Survival was the priority for Sunderland in their first season back in the top-flight.

‘They have had a habit in recent seasons of coming up and then going straight back down again. It was so, so important that they stayed up.

‘I think they made their intentions very clear at the start of last season when the board backed the manager very heavily with signings that kept them in the Premier League.

‘This season, their agenda is totally different. They are buying a better quality player and they have spent big again.

‘They are obviously thinking very much about European football. And why shouldn’t they with the fan base they have and the support they get week-in and week-out.’