If Martin Can Get My Cats off Their Knees, It Can Also Inspire Ireland to Do Well Next Summer
Byline: by GARETH MAHER
GREAT things are expected of new Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill and Niall Quinn believes his impact on the struggling club could be felt as far away as Gdansk next June.
The atmosphere around the Stadium of Light has already been much more positive since O'Neill was confirmed as the new Black Cats manager and even though the Derry native may not know it, his impact with the Premier League outfit could directly benefit Giovanni Trapattoni at Euro 2012.
Both John O'Shea and Keiren Westwood are in danger of travelling to Poland and Ukraine on the back of a relegation dogfight, which could shatter their confidence, but with O'Neill now in charge, Sunderland are suddenly aiming to climb higher up the table and former chairman Quinn believes that is good news for the Irish duo.
In 2002, Quinn experienced the rigours of a relegation battle with Sunderland going into a major tournament, so he hopes that O'Shea and Westwood don't have to go through the same thing.
'I would say that bringing our club on in the next six months would be the greatest preparation for both players,' said Quinn.
'It would be great if all the Irish players at the club were firing and playing to the best of their abilities. It would be great for Ireland that they'd go into the tournament like that, as opposed to struggling with confidence and being in the bottom three and the nervousness that goes with that.
'It was a difficult year going into it, but once that tournament comes around you find a whole new lease of life and you kind of forget about what happened the year before.
'But that's only when things haven't gone so well. When things have gone well, you come into it full of confidence and it's a different story.' Regarding O'Neill's appointment as Steve Bruce's successor, Quinn was full of praise for the ex-Aston Villa boss and is excited about what the 59-year-old can achieve.
Having met with supporters' groups recently, he knows exactly what is needed to bring the good vibes back to Sunderland and O'Neill's sheer presence has started that process.
'It's almost as if there's a ball of energy around him. Hopefully everyone will feed off that now. He brings an incredible pedigree to it all,' said Quinn at the launch of the Dublin Bus children's art calendar.
'The enthusiasm and the energy he brings, I think that's what was missing. …