John O’Shea hopes Sunderland are not left scrapping for their Premier League survival once again come May next year.
Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over Everton at the Stadium of Light secured another season of top-flight football for the Black Cats, who for the fourth year in succession had found themselves battling against the drop.
A run of just one defeat in their last 10 matches has seen Sam Allardyce’s men avoid relegation this time, with fierce rivals Newcastle United and Norwich City joining Aston Villa in going down as a result.
And while quick to praise the efforts of everyone at the club in their latest survival struggle, O’Shea is hoping for a more comfortable conclusion to 2016-17.
“To perform under that kind of pressure [was excellent] … the quality of [Lamine] Kone and [Younes] Kaboul when it really mattered, the boys stood up,” he told Sky Sports.
“It was a great team performance. It gets to that situation where we’ve done it in previous seasons but people keep saying we can’t keep doing it.
“But the manager added quality in January and we’re finally showing it.
“As long as we remain in the Premier League that’s the main thing but we want to be higher in the league, that’s for sure.
“The quality of pre-season is going to be key, when the gaffer took over that was probably lacking.
“Because of what it means to the club, it’s huge, and hopefully we can give them more enjoyable nights, not just at the end of the season.
“Obviously we can enjoy tonight and have, not a celebration, because it’s more of a relief.”