IN the final analysis of the 2013-14 season, it was too Italians who stood head and shoulders above the rest when it came to judging Sunderland’s best player of the season.
Vito Mannone narrowly edged out countryman Fabio Borini for that honour as supporters remembered the goalkeeper’s contribution over the vast majority of the campaign just a little bit more than the magic moments the feet of the striker delivered.
Between them, the two players attracted more than two thirds of the whole amount of votes cast.
But there were plenty of others who attracted honourable mentions.
In third place, admittedly by some distance behind, was Lee Cattermole, which probably reflected supporters’ admiration to his personal end to a season when he helped drag the Black Cats through games.
It was also a season, it should be noted, in which he attracted only one red card.
In fourth place was commanding centre-half Wes Brown.
Head coach Gus Poyet spoke towards the end of the campaign of how he had been a ‘lucky’ manager - lucky to have Brown for a run of games, unlike his predecessors Martin O’Neill, Steve Bruce and Paolo Di Canio.
It was the return of Brown to Sunderland’s side, coinciding with Mannone being handed his chance between the sticks, that saw the Black Cats’ porous defence finally begin to tighten up.
Those four players stood head and shoulders above the rest although votes were also cast for Adam Johnson, Connor Wickham and John O’Shea.