MARTIN O’Neill believes an enduring sense of togetherness in the Sunderland dressing room is helping pull the club through difficult times.
But the manager says it is still important he looks to inject new blood when the transfer window re-opens in January.
Growing fears over the direction in which the Black Cats’ season was heading have been calmed by successive victories over basement rivals in the space of a fortnight.
Those wins leave 15th-placed Sunderland four points clear of the drop zone today, significantly easing relegation fears, and O’Neill reckons it is a collective sense of purpose which has seen the side through.
Asked what has helped Sunderland get a couple of crucial results, he said “Well, we’ve got a fine spirit.
“We had it last year, and it carried us through some pretty challenging months.
“When I first arrived at the club the spirit in the camp was pretty low, which was understandable given what players had been through.
“But though the spirit was low, it wasn’t broken, and it was that spirit which helped us climb the table.
“Yes you get defeats now and again but that spirit helps you bounce back.”
Great team spirit or not, the bond within the camp will not for one instant prevent O’Neill looking to strengthen his squad when the transfer window opens next month.
He said: “A good team spirit can carry you an awful long way, but I accept that spirit is not enough.
“You do need quality too and that’s something we’re aware of as next month approaches.
“I really do think we have to try to improve our side.
“Numerically, we’re not that strong.
“I accept it’s not easy to improve, for a variety of reasons, and January can be a difficult window, but some of the skilful players do need help in terms of us strengthening the physical side of our squad.”