ONSIDE: O’Neill’s Sunderland should be up for the cup

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The “magic of the cup” is quite often talked about and Sunderland’s flirtation with the competitions is either full-on or non-existent.

For the past few years, when we haven’t been dealing with relegation or getting promoted, we have had nothing to get excited about beyond the months of March or early April.

So anything which can bring a little sparkle to what has been a very dull season, as results and performances go, would be perfect.

“And up next, the draw for the fourth round of the Capital One Cup.”

For two years running we have pulled out the men from Teesside and the chance to come up against each other is a big draw for both sets of fans.

Sunderland have had the odd cup run in recent years, and not to get too excited by a quarter-final trip to Everton last year, a semi-final date with Millwall is the closet the Black Cats have come to a trophy since being beaten by Liverpool in the 1992 FA Cup Final.

But hopefully under Martin O’Neill, who has still only tasted defeat once this season despite the criticism of performances, is the man to change the way Sunderland look at the cup competitions.

He led Leicester City to a trophy and Aston Villa to a cup final, so why can’t he do it with Sunderland?

The draw has been kind-ish to the Black Cats as Premier League sides face each other elsewhere, meaning there is more chance of an easier draw if we can overcome Tony Mowbray’s men.

But what will it take?

Well, we need to make sure we do not let a Belgian by the name of Faris Haroun trouble us like he did in last year’s FA Cup game.

Lee Cattermole needs to stay on the pitch - and footballing laws state in paragraph 65 section 21 that a player must score against his former club.

Step forward Adam Johnson.

Has the Easington Village lad has struggled for form? No.

He is suffering from the price you pay for having such a good player who stands out against his team mates, meaning that other teams are going to double or triple up on him.

He can expect no less against Boro.

So he has to put in the performance that saw him leave Boro for the bright blue lights of Manchester City and torment the Teessiders who gave him his chance to impress in the Premier League.

Ha’way the lads.