Wise Men Say: Black Cats’ desire fired up the crowd on a day to remember

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Oh how we needed that. After a week where our focus had been shifted off the pitch, the supporters and the club really needed a lift.

A committed performance from the players gave us exactly that, as we deservedly beat Manchester United.

The togetherness of the players was obvious in the celebrations of both goals and at the final whistle.

Yann M’Vila led the players who remained on the pitch into the centre circle as they continued to salute the crowd at the Stadium of Light.

The atmosphere was fantastic, possibly the best it’s been all season, the fans responding to the desire being shown by the players. As the players pushed on and the roar of the crowd grew louder, it felt inevitable that the winner would come.

Games like that can’t just be won on desire alone, of course.

Both Sunderland goals were a result of Wahbi Khazri’s set pieces, which he looked dangerous from all afternoon.

There may have been an element of fortune to his goal, but by swinging the ball into the right area, he perhaps deserved that piece of luck.

Every time we got a corner, you could feel the anticipation in crowd as Khazri continued to put dangerous balls into the United box, with one almost ending in Lamine Kone scoring a bicycle kick!

The Tunisian didn’t just display quality from set pieces though, his link-up play with Patrick van Aanholt was a very encouraging sign and his sheer bravado to attempt dribbles, in a way that no one else in our side could, was marvellous.

Going off his early displays, we look like we’ve found a superb player here.

It was no huge surprise to see a Khazri corner end up in a Sunderland goal, as Kone rounded off his fine display by rising highest to power the ball into the visitors net. I don’t care if it’s actually a David De Gea own goal, Kone deserved it.

The towering Ivorian, along with John O’Shea, bossed the defence as Manchester United’s strikers barely got a sniff of goal.

Considering he’s transferred from a foreign league, Kone has slotted in seamlessly and looks like he’s been playing in the Premier League for his entire career.

Let’s hope that his partnership with O’Shea continues to blossom.

Some recognition is also owed to another January signing, Dame N’Doye.

Many would have preferred to have seen Fabio Borini start in his place, me included, but N’Doye had a good game and ran himself into the ground.

You could see him flagging towards the end of the match, but he still kept pressing the United defenders and was a decent ariel presence throughout.

Not only did he give us a different option going forward but he was also unlucky not to score. Lee Cattermole played him in with a beautiful through ball, but N’Doye was denied by De Gea’s outstretched leg.

With injuries to Duncan Watmore and Jeremain Lens, N’Doye could be required a lot during the final run of games, but if he kicks on from his performance on Saturday then I don’t think anyone will have any qualms with that.

Sunderland knew that the January transfer window was going to be vital in their bid for survival.

The new players have been able to come straight into the team and have strengthened us in vital areas.

It’s still early, but the win over United was the biggest indication yet that we may have got it right, for once. Hopefully it’s just the start.

* The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes