VITO MANNONE believes this year’s cup competitions have taught Sunderland to be “winners”.
Sunderland will secure a second trip of the season to Wembley if they can win their FA Cup quarter-final at Hull on Sunday after last weekend’s defeat in the Capital One Cup final.
The Black Cats’ rivals in the bottom half of the table have generally treated the cups with far more disdain, with Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert insisting earlier this season that Premier League managers would prefer to do without the FA Cup.
But goalkeeper Mannone says Sunderland have reaped the rewards from a positive approach to the cups – both in the iconic moments from their Capital One Cup run and the knock-on effect on their Premier League form.
Since beating Chelsea in the League Cup quarter-finals in December, Sunderland have taken 15 points from the subsequent 10 league games, with Gus Poyet’s side boasting a healthy chance of top-flight survival, despite their fixture pile-up for the run-in.
Summer signing Mannone told the Echo: “The cups are massive in this country.
“We took it really seriously this year. The gaffer as well.
“We took every game to help improve us and help our game, so we could learn to be winners.
“I think we’ve learned to be winners in the cups.
“We didn’t lose in either competition before Man City last weekend, so it’s been an amazing run.”
Sunderland have suffered defeats in both meetings against Steve Bruce’s Hull this season after seeing men sent off in each encounter – Lee Cattermole and Andrea Dossena at the KC Stadium and Wes Brown at the Stadium of Light.
But the Capital One Cup final appearance has whetted the appetite of Sunderland’s players for another trip to Wembley and goalkeeper Mannone says there is no barrier towards Poyet’s side reaching the semi-finals, if they reproduce their performance from last weekend.
“Why not another trip to Wembley?” added Mannone, who enjoyed two separate loan spells at Hull during his Arsenal career.
“We had an amazing run and deserved to be there.
“It’s one game. We always want to win our next game and bounce back.
“Hopefully we can go through and go back to Wembley.
“We need to be of the same standard in the games coming up.
“But if we win on Sunday, we’re going again. That’s the strangeness of this season.”