Sunderland news

O'Neill dreams of playing like Barca

December 10, 2011
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill has outlined his ambition to have a team that plays with the style of Barcelona, though admitted "pragmatism has to be the order of the day" for the struggling Wearsiders at the moment.

Martin O'Neill Sunderland
GettyImagesMartin O'Neill looking far into a future where Sunderland play like Lionel Messi and Co

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European champions Barca have been described by some as the best side ever to have played the game and Pep Guardiola's charges have unquestionably set a benchmark in the modern era with their devastating tiki-taka approach.

The Catalans have won many admirers and can count O'Neill among them, with the Northern Irishman keen to create a team in the future capable of emulating Lionel Messi and his team-mates.

However, O'Neill recognises that his lofty ambitions are a world away from life at the Stadium of Light at present, his new side currently sitting precariously close to the Premier League relegation zone.

"I always come back to the way Barcelona play and I think teams look to that," O'Neill said. "It's a long way in the future but you'd love to keep that in the back of your mind and think you could eventually have a team that could play like that.

"Over the course of time, people will probably throw that back at me. But we need to win some football matches and at the moment pragmatism has to be the order of the day.

"When I was at Aston Villa we seemed to have a reputation for being a counter-attacking side and when you have the likes of Milner, Young, Downing and Agbonlahor in the side, that's probably quite true.

"There was a lot of pace in the side so it was almost natural to play that way. I don't think, from the first look here, that we have that same kind of pace at the moment, so you'd have to adjust accordingly."