MICHAEL Turner has urged Sunderland not to let their transformation under Martin O’Neill go to waste by crumbling in the home straight.
Sunderland slipped out of the top 10 for only the second time since January on Easter Monday, after crashing to a 4-0 thumping at bogey team Everton.
Since O’Neill succeeded Steve Bruce in December, the Black Cats have largely been on an upward spiral, moving from 17th in the table to a high point of eighth.
But amid a crowded pack vying for a top-half finish, Sunderland are now a point adrift of 10th-placed Norwich City.
A second successive top 10 spot would represent solid progress for O’Neill’s side, particularly after picking up just 11 points from the opening 13 games, and centre-half Turner is keen to end the campaign on a high point.
Turner told the Gazette: “We want to finish the season strongly – we don’t want to let it just fizzle out.
“I don’t think we have to set ourselves a points target or anything like that.
“But we just want to win more games, and finish what’s been a good season after a bad start.
“If we can get a few wins and put a smile on the fans’ faces, then going into next season we can look forward to it.”
The dismal defeat at Goodison Park bore striking similarities to losses over the last two months against West Brom and Blackburn in the Premier League, and Everton in the FA Cup.
Turner is at a loss to explain why Sunderland have suddenly begun to sink to such depths under O’Neill.
Encouragingly though, Sunderland have responded in impressive fashion after each of their previous low points.
And the Black Cats will be confident of doing so again with basement boys Wolves – who take on Arsenal tonight – the visitors to the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
“I suppose you get these performances, but I’m not sure why we haven’t performed in certain matches,” added Turner.
“But we’ve shown that when we’re up against it, we can come through.
“We’ve shown that a few times. We’ve had a couple of bad performances and bounced back.
“We’re showing we’re all here to work hard and united in making things better when they go a little bit wrong.”