MARTIN O’Neill has spoken of his disappointment at not being given longer to turn Sunderland around.
The ex-Black Cats boss – unceremoniously sacked by owner Ellis Short last Saturday – has never been relegated in more than two decades of football management.
And having kept Sunderland up last season he was convinced he would have kept them up again.
“I believe I saved the club from relegation last season and because of that I felt I should have been afforded the chance to do so again,” he said.
“I would have backed myself to have won more games than I did this season and I should have won a couple more matches and the fact that I didn’t is down to me.
“But I would have imagined I would have kept the club up.
“I’ve been in tough positions before and come out of it.
“My first season at Aston Villa was really tough and going into the last seven games of the season with them we had some important matches to win.
“But we got through them and went on to create a brilliant team.
“I also had a difficult start at Leicester too, but came through to create a team which finished in the top 10 four times.”
O’Neill regretted that he didn’t get to see the job through and left the club still believing that he would have kept Sunderland up, even though he admitted displays weren’t good enough on occasions this season and results needed to be better.
“As I say, I would have backed myself to win more matches than we did,” he said.
“We didn’t play well against Norwich City recently, but the second half against Man United I thought was a rousing affair which gave us hope for the remainder of the season.
“I wouldn’t pick any particular game that stands out – even the QPR game where we went ahead, we lost to two world class goals.”
“When you go through spells where you don’t win matches the team loses a bit of a confidence.
“But we’ve won vital matches before this season and I would have expected us to do so again.”