O'Neill takes nothing for granted
Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill will not allow himself to relax for a minute until he has edged the club over the Barclays Premier League finishing line.
- Related Content
The Ulsterman has made no secret during his time at the Stadium of Light that the overwhelming priority is top-flight survival and the battle for those precious 40 points.
That process has been all the more difficult in recent seasons by the number of clubs - Newcastle, West Brom and Tuesday night's opponents Swansea among them - who have won promotion and then made the transition to the big time with some aplomb.
However, as the Magpies have perhaps discovered this time around, there is no room for complacency and O'Neill is not about to be lulled into a false sense of security despite seeing the Black Cats ease themselves nine points clear of the drop zone with a run of five wins in eight outings.
He said: "I have got a difference of opinion about establishing oneself - you could be in this league for five years and you could struggle in any given year and then find yourself not as established as you thought you were.
"Every single year presents the same challenges. You have to get to the points.
"Manchester City, Manchester United and a few sides like that - Chelsea, Arsenal, those sides who have been contesting top four - wouldn't think about worrying about 40 points, but there are quite a number of teams who do.
"Winning games is very important. I take less notice at this stage of position. I would rather have the points on the board. For us, that's still very important."
Sunderland will welcome the Swans to Wearside knowing they will have to be at their best to extend their recent record, with Michael Laudrup's men two places and five points better off and having combined their league form with a sensational march into the Capital One Cup final.
O'Neill said: "They just seem to have kicked on. They have done very well. They are coping reasonably comfortably in this league.
"Last season, of course, was one where they were just first time up and not knowing what to expect and they did very well at that time.
"Now they seem to have improved and they have got some very decent players playing for them."
One of those decent players could well be bound for Sunderland this week if O'Neill gets his way with his pursuit of Gateshead-born striker Danny Graham ongoing.
Swansea are understood to be reluctant to part with the 27-year-old until they have bolstered their own squad with Stoke's Kenwyne Jones reportedly in their sights.
However, while declining to identify his targets, O'Neill is hopeful of adding firepower to an attacking unit which has been depleted by the departures of Fraizer Campbell and Ji Dong-won, while Louis Saha's contract has been cancelled by mutual consent.
The manager said: "I would like to try to improve it if we can. It's not always that easy, but we will try to do it.
"If we are left with this [squad], then we would have to try to manage it as best we can, but I am still hoping we can do something."