A PREMIER League game against Manchester United always stands apart from the rest, in terms of glamour and occasion.
But while this weekend’s fixture was given added attraction by the fact that it was the 25th anniversary of Sir Alex Ferguson taking charge of the club, the story of the game was drearily familiar to Sunderland fans this season.
For the umpteenth time this season it was a case of so near yet so far.
I think most people would agree we put on a decent show, especially considering the opposition we were facing but ultimately we’ve come away with nothing.
And despite our solid performance and United’s being bang average, there was still a sense of inevitably that they would win, we would lose.
The truth is that United know how to win games like those and we don’t.
I can’t remember the last time we went to Old Trafford and looked so comfortable for such long spells of the game – we usually spend the game getting battered.
But for long periods of the game Keiren Westwood was virtually a spectator in the Sunderland goal and when he was put under pressure he responded very well.
I’m not saying we were the better side but for a lot of the game all we were really seeing was a midfield battle.
Just like the recent game at Arsenal though there was still that nagging feeling that we wouldn’t get anything out of the game, that their winner was only a matter of time away and so it proved.
It’s hard to say you should be going to Old Trafford and getting something but there really wasn’t that much in it at the weekend and this is the paradox for Sunderland fans – they are watching their team play well; just not well enough in key moments of the game.
We are getting close, but not getting over the finishing line.
READ the full column in Tuesday’s Echo