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Black Cats have plenty of work to do to convince.

WEARSIDE is still waiting for the great leap forward.

Sunderland are catapulted into a crucial game at Loftus Road this weekend.

And, as Seb Larsson acknowledges in The Journal today, they had hoped to have rendered relegation talk irrelevant by now.

But this is a campaign that has never really got started for the Black Cats. Despite a summer of considerable investment and a squad that looks, on paper, to have the makings of a top-ten side, it has never clicked for a significant period of time. The threat of relegation cannot be lightly dismissed.

Time is what Martin O'Neill needs, of course. The squad he inherited from Steve Bruce was still carrying some of the excesses of the Roy Keane era and, thinking back to the long contracts handed out to players back then, you can't help but wince.

I wonder what O'Neill might have done with the cash wasted on the likes of George McCartney or Anthony Stokes, for example.

But for all the mitigation, Sunderland need to deliver this weekend and beyond. O'Neill is guaranteed time and patience from the boardroom and terraces but there is a palpable sense among Sunderland fans that they want a result or run to convince them that the club is heading in the right direction.

Once or twice, they've hinted at it but this has been a frustrating campaign.

There remains plenty of work to do on Wearside, starting in West London this weekend.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 8, 2013
Words:243
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