Vito Mannone is looking forward to playing a key role under David Moyes after almost calling time on his Sunderland career.
This time last year the Italian goalkeeper was No 2 to Costel Pantilimon and not getting the first team opportunities he felt he deserved.
The arrival of Sam Allardyce changed that, with Mannone finally making his first league start of the season in December against tomorrow’s opponents Manchester City.
Mannone went on to establish himself as first choice, with Pantilimon sold to Watford in the January transfer window.
The 28-year-old will start in goal at the Etihad Stadium and he is aiming to play a key role this season.
Mannone said: “In goal you are a second coach on the pitch really because you can listen to what the manager says, how he wants the team to play, how his defence to defend, his midfield squeezing.
“You have to be as alert as anyone else otherwise you can’t shout and teach from behind.
“I always try to be focused on that and help my teammates.
“It is a different style.
“As a man he attends to details, details makes the difference, so hopefully we will get on with it and do our best to do what he wants from us and to make sure the details are correct.”
Mannone is enjoying life at Sunderland ahead of the new season but admits thoughts of leaving in search of regular first team football had crossed his mind last year.
“While I was training well and not getting the chances I was thinking maybe I will have to move on.
“But when the new gaffer came in, Sam, he told me to keep going because I will get a chance.
“That was a turning point for me and I got my reward after the hard work of the previous year when I was not playing.
“There is never an end to anything, there is always a possibility.
“If you do your job well, and you’re satisfied, if you have faith then chances will come your way and you have to be ready to take it.”
He added: “I am very confident going into this season.
“I finished very well last season. I turned the corner from Christmas onwards, so I would like continuity and to work hard and improve myself.”
He is set for a busy Saturday evening at the Etihad Stadium against Sergio Aguero & Co.
“Man City away is a tough test. We need to try to start with a good pace.
“Playing Man City is never a good time, let’s be honest.
“They have incredible players and now a very good coach. They have a great team full of good players.
“We have to do our bit and if we are on our right game then we will give ourselves a chance, if we defend properly.”