Rowell Report: Performance at Man City was Sunderland’s best all season

Ex-Sunderland footballer Gary Rowell
Ex-Sunderland footballer Gary Rowell
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I KNOW it’s almost a week ago now but I don’t want to let the Manchester City game pass without pointing out that I thought it was Sunderland’s best performance of the entire 2013-14 campaign.

I never thought for a moment that if we got a draw against Manchester City I would leave the Etihad Stadium disappointed, but that’s how it turned out.

City scored right at the start and right at the end but in between it was Sunderland who were the better team against the would-be Premier League champions.

It was a display from Sunderland which could have merited all three points, so Samir Nasri’s late equaliser was especially cruel on Sunderland.

As has been the case so often this season, it was an individual mistake that cost us two precious points on the day.

This time it was Vito Mannone who made the error - the player who has been consistent as anyone for Sunderland this term - somehow allowing Nasri’s shot to roll agonisingly over the line.

Sunderland’s display overall against City though was top class - as good a display as I’ve seen from them all season - going toe-to-toe with a top class team challenging for the title.

Only Chelsea, and now Sunderland, have taken something from City at the Etihad.

And that shows how well Sunderland’s players performed, especially after giving City a goal start by conceding so early on.

I think a lot of fans were fearing the worst then, but Sunderland’s response was excellent as they took the game to City and apart from their two goals they also created three or four other good chances.

In a season when the lack of goals and creativity in the team has been so glaring, it was great to see Sunderland express themselves positively and carve open a quality defence so many times.

Perhaps conceding so early on, gave Sunderland a ‘nothing-to-lose’ mentality.

But whatever it was, it worked, and even though they only gained one point, they should be very proud of that particular display.