David Moyes is the right man to bring the stability Sunderland have been “craving,” believes captain John O’Shea, writes Richard Mennear.
But he concedes the players must also step up to the challenge of transforming the Black Cats from annual relegation battlers into a more stable Premier League side.
Sunderland have flirted dangerously with relegation for the past four seasons and were again forced to pull off another remarkable escape last season.
Sam Allardyce’s efforts on Wearside made him the number one candidate to replace Roy Hodgson as England boss, with Moyes taking charge at the Stadium of Light.
And O’Shea believes the club has a “very good” chance of enjoying a season away from relegation strife with the new man at the helm.
“It is – it’s the challenge for everybody at the whole club,” said O’Shea when asked if the biggest challenge facing Moyes is to put an end to relegation fights.
“Obviously, the manager is the main man to drive that forward but the players have to help him.
“With everyone working towards that, and with the support we have got, I think we have a very good chance of doing that this season.
“The Premier League is very competitive though, and when you look at the teams and the money they are spending – the so-called big four, five, or six teams – it’s quite incredible at the moment.
“That just shows the power of the Premier League.”
Steve Bruce – sacked in November 2011 – was the last Sunderland manager to complete a full season.
Moyes is the sixth manager to take charge since Bruce departed.
And while O’Shea admits the players have grown accustomed to the managerial merry-go-round, he hopes this time it is different under Moyes.
“A little bit, yes,” said O’Shea when asked whether the players had grown used to the changes in manager.
“It’s one of those things – obviously, what you want is stability, and that’s what the club is craving at the moment.
“But the new gaffer has signed a four-year deal so we are all hoping that now we will get that stability.
“Ultimately, though, we are still in the Premier League which is the key thing, but we want to get away from just surviving every year.”
Tonight’s pre-season friendly against Borussia Dortmund, at the Cashpoint Arena, in Altach, Austria, (kick-off 5.45pm UK time) is the final match of pre-season.
Sunderland’s Premier League campaign starts with a daunting trip to the Etihad Stadium on August 13, the first top flight game of Pep Guardiola’s City reign.
Club captain O’Shea is under no illusions as to the task facing Moyes’ side but says a good start is key.
It took until October 25 to secure the first league win last season, the 3-0 derby victory over Newcastle United.
“We’ve left ourselves so much to do by starting badly in the last few seasons,” added O’Shea.
“We have been able to do it, but we’ve made it very hard for ourselves.
“It would be a much more enjoyable season if we could get points on the board early, and we were talking about trying to finish in the top half of the table rather than getting away from the bottom three.”