Sunderland defender Carlos Cuellar says he and his team-mates have not been distracted by the speculation surrounding manager Martin O’Neill and is convinced they can avoid relegation.
The Black Cats were tipped as outsiders to finish in the European places before their start of the campaign by premier league betting news writers, following a busy summer that saw them sign the likes of Cuellar, Adam Johnson and Steven Fletcher.
Unfortunately though they’re yet to find their rhythm and after such high expectations, the pressure has quite understandably been piled on boss Martin O’Neill, with it frequently being rumoured that the board are considering replacing him.
However, his side’s performances have improved in recent weeks and a spirited defeat against Chelsea on Saturday was followed by a morale boosting 3-0 win at home to fellow strugglers Reading on Tuesday.
They will now be looking to kick on from that victory, but face a tricky run of fixtures over the Christmas period, including home matches against Manchester City and Tottenham.
The fixtures mean the veteran Northern Irish boss’ position is likely to come under question again in the next month and a few more defeats could see him sacked after little over a year in the job.
However, Cuellar insists he and his colleagues are not worried by the speculation surrounding their manager and is confident they can pull together and rise up the table.
“To be honest, the talk of the manager had no influence on the dressing room,” he said to soccer betting news reporters. “All the time from the manager through to the chairman, they’ve showed their confidence in the team. No-one’s really said anything about it.
“We don’t need to get upset about where we are in the table. We just have to make sure we keep our confidence and keep getting points.”