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Friday 04 May 2012

O'Neill eyes strong Sunderland finish

Black Cats boss says players will be motivated for final two matches this season

Martin O'Neill's Sunderland have drawn five of their past six League matches

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill wants his players to finish the Barclays Premier League season on a high.

The Black Cats enjoyed a sensational run of form following O'Neill's appointment in December - but have struggled of late and are without a Barclays Premier League win since beating Queens Park Rangers 3-1 on March 24th.

Five of their six League matches since then have been drawn, but a top-10 finish is still possible.

And O'Neill said it remained an important match despite the fact that neither Fulham nor Sunderland can qualify for Europe.

"We have two excellent games to finish the season and that should be enough motivation"
- Martin O'Neill

"Maybe 25 years ago this game would be considered an end-of-season event, but having so much money at stake for each position attaches a great deal of importance to the games," O'Neill told Sunderland's website.

"We should talk about pride, too, and we want to finish on a high note.

"Momentum at the end of the season doesn't necessarily account for the next year, but it's better to head off having won the last couple of games than having lost them."

O'Neill said Fulham's Craven Cottage was a "fantastic" ground to visit.

"I really enjoyed travelling there as a player and I've enjoyed it as a manager. I don't think Sunday will make me feel any different.

"Who wouldn't look forward to playing Manchester United [in Sunderland's final match of the season], too?

"We have two excellent games to finish the season, and that in itself should be enough motivation for the players."

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Key Points

  • Martin O'Neill wants Sunderland to finish the season strongly
  • Black Cats without a win in six Barclays Premier League matches
  • Fulham host O'Neill's side at Craven Cottage on Sunday