Marc McNulty opens up on Rotherham draw, Sunderland's start to the campaign and why he's thriving
Sunderland started this contest in fine fashion and Marc McNulty was at the heart of it.
Twice he made superb runs into space, firstly putting his side ahead and secondly to win the penalty that should have put them firmly in the driving seat.
Ultimately it was a night of frustration, but it was also one in which the Scot underlined his successful start to life on Wearside.
Performances were promising to begin with and now he has the goals to match it.
After a frustrating spell at Reading, McNulty is thriving, visibly relishing the pressure and playing in a side showing off his strengths.
In a matter of weeks he has established himself as a very important part of the side.
“The manager has made the way he wants to play very clear and for me as a striker he wants me in behind to stretch the game,” he said.
“On Tuesday the goal and penalty came from balls in behind, stretching the play. If we're getting goals from it I'm sure the manager will keep asking us to do it.
“I never really had that great a pre-season with Reading, I was with the youth team, so for me it's a case of trying to get a run of games. I
“I had a couple of little niggles before which was a bit frustrating but to get two in two is obviously good and I'll take the positives of that.
“As a striker you've always got a lot of pressure and yeah it was a bit disappointing at Reading but I'm not really dwelling on it,” he added.
“I've landed on my feet coming to a club the size of Sunderland and I'm very lucky and fortunate coming to play for a club this size.
“I'm just going to work as hard as I can and hopefully I can stay in the team and be successful at this club.”
The draw with Rotherham left Sunderland four points off the top of the League One table, though they have played one less game than Coventry City.
It was the third 1-1 scoreline of the league season so far, an obvious concern after last season’s near miss.
McNulty admits Tuesday night’s visitors were worthy of their point, and expects them to push at the top end of the table this season.
While the frustration int he Sunderland camp was obvious, McNulty sees the trip to Bolton on Saturday as a chance to quickly kick on.
Keith Hill’s side have had an immensely challenging start to the season but a 0-0 against Oxford on Tuesday night was a sign that they are improving.
“There's two ways of looking at how we've started the season, there's the negative, 'Ah, draws, not enough wins,' and there’s the positive, we got beaten at Peterborough but other than that it's been a good start and I'd look at it that way myself,” he said.
“We're four points off the top with a game in hand. You win that and everybody says that's great.
“It's very fine margins. If we'd won on Tuesday we'd be right up there with a game in hand. It's a long season with a lot of games left to play. The boys are positive and the manager's positive, we've just got to go to Bolton and try to get the three points.
“Rotherham will definitely for me be up there at the end of the season,” he added.
“Every season they're up and down, thereabouts, they are one of them teams.
“You could see that in the second half especially. They got a foothold in the game, some of their play was nice and they're quite direct as well.
“They were better in the second half, to be honest, and we didn't quite get going. We had a couple of half-chances.
“It was frustrating but we couldn't really get going in the second half and a point in the end was probably fair.
“Another draw is disappointing but if we win on Saturday, it will be a good week.
“Bolton been on the end of a few bad results but they're not going to go through a season getting hammered every week. There was going to be a time where it was going to change.
“We've got to keep doing the right things, listen to the manager and play as well as we can play. If we carry all that out, we should win.”
The pressure on Sunderland to win promotion this season is immense but despite this latest draw, McNulty has no doubts that this squad can rise to it.
“I think we've got players who all thrive on it,” he said.
“We've got a good group of boys and we've started the season well. We've only had one loss, at Peterborough. It's been frustrating we've had a couple of draws now but I think there's been a few times we've gone behind and I think it shows massive character [to come back].
I've played in teams before where we've conceded and never looked like coming back.
“Here, I wouldn't say we've been free-flowing and playing at our best, I think there's still levels to go and we're working hard in training, the manager's telling us that. But we've definitely still got levels [we can reach], this team.
“It's a good sign that we're picking up points still. Over the course of the season I'm sure we'll get better and better.”