It’s all positive for Sunderland keeper Mannone

Steven Fletcher celebrates the first of his double against Stoke. Picture by Kevin Brady
Steven Fletcher celebrates the first of his double against Stoke. Picture by Kevin Brady
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VITO MANNONE says Sunderland can be content in mid-table after breaking their duck heading into the international break.

Sunderland secured their opening Premier League win of the campaign at the seventh time of asking on Saturday after a 3-1 victory over Stoke City.

A maiden win has put a far more positive complexion on Sunderland’s start to the season, with Gus Poyet’s side taking a solid eight points from their opening seven league games and suffering just one defeat.

And with Sunderland facing a tough trip to Southampton, followed by the visit of Arsenal, after the international break, goalkeeper Mannone believes the winning feeling has come at a timely moment.

Mannone (pictured) said: “That’s why we needed this three points.

“We need to stay positive and we know it will be a difficult game against Southampton away from home.

“After that it will be Arsenal and after that another top side.

“That’s the Premier League. You need to adapt to every game and try to win as many games as we can.

“It wasn’t a must-win on Saturday, but it was a game we really wanted to win.

“I think we’ve seen really positives things from the last two games.

“We were really unlucky not to score against Swansea, and, at the end of the day, this was the one we needed to win before the break.

“Two days ago, we said we’d had a difficult start. Now we say, we’ve had a good start, mid-table. It’s a funny game.”

Mannone was denied a third successive top-flight clean sheet after Sunderland were caught cold from a quickly-taken free-kick on the counter-attack, before Charlie Adam fired the ball through the legs of the back-tracking John O’Shea.

But, despite conceding the goal, Mannone claims he enjoyed the tension of a tightly-poised encounter, before Steven Fletcher’s second goal of the afternoon secured the three points.

The Italian added: “I have to be honest, I enjoy those afternoons!

“Maybe the fans enjoy them a little bit less because we have to dig in and defend as hard as we can.

“But this is the Premier League.

“Once we come out on top in the defending side, you’ve got a chance to go forwards and create chances.

“I’ll probably go home thinking I could have had another clean sheet, but these things happen.

“We said to Will Buckley that maybe he should have been a bit nastier and not give the ball back for the counter-attack.

“But he knows.

“It was a naive mistake, but, generally, I think we defended well.”