Quick Kicks: Thoughts And Reaction From Sunderland 1-2 Manchester United

Michael Regan

Played well, didn't take chances, deserved more from the game - lost. Ad infinitum.

What the Gaffer said

The players worked hard; they deserved their lead in the first half and created several other chances.

At the start of the second half we expected United to come out as they did.

From my point of view - and the players feel the same - we all felt that the [first] goal could have been prevented and that something could have been done about it, and the same could have been said for the second goal.

It's minor details that if we get them sorted it will stop these sorts of goals going in. That's something we'll be working on.

In terms of effort I thought everything was there for us.

It's fine margins against the top teams and the higher you go, those margins get smaller and smaller.

There were parts of the game the players will be really happy with and parts they will be disappointed with.

I thought the fans backed us really well throughout and it would have been nice to get something at the end.

The fans got right behind us and we really appreciate that.

Sometimes the 'the players tried hard' rhetoric wears thin and feels like a bit of a cop-out, but not this time. It is completely fair for Kevin Ball to herald the work-rate of the players in this one. They ran themselves into the ground.

We really needed the second goal, and the frustration is that we created enough to get it yet were wasteful.

Credit has to go to Bally though for the way in which he set his side up. In terms of both shape and motivation, they were spot on. He probably won't get the job, but he has done himself enormous credit during this brief caretaker stint. I'd love to see him more involved with the first team squad under the new manager.

Unlucky Sunderland

"Sunderland were unlucky to see a perfectly good Jozy Altidore goal disallowed to give them a free kick instead."

"Sunderland were unlucky to have the officials fail to spot Daniel Sturridge put the ball into the net with his arm."

"Sunderland can count themselves unlucky to have been on the end of a world class one-in-a-hundred finish there."

All true, of course. Fortune is not smiling on us this season. But we also can't hide behind it, because just about every relegation is built upon a hard-luck story.

The reality is here that we have to start making our own luck. The lapses of concentration at the back are not helping there, but actually taking the chances that are being created would relieve the pressure on everyone and make tough breaks far less costly.

Influential Gards

I'm far from Craig Gardner's biggest fan and I'm seldom happy to see him on the pitch, but he gave me a sizeable slice of humble pie in this one.

His goal was splendidly taken, though his indecision when through on goal shortly after highlighted the biggest flaw in his game.

But it was his aggressive, hungry, energetic pressing and drive from midfield that, for me, really shone. He was a genuine influence on the game and a real miss when a back injury ended his afternoon.

Was it a coincidence that this performance came when deployed in a three-man midfield? Who knows, but whoever the new manager is, I hope we get further opportunities to find out.

Roberge settling?

With a ball at his feet, Valentin Roberge impressed from day one here.

However, it's also fair to say that there have been question marks over his actual defending, specifically the physical side of it. He struggled in that sense against Fulham and barely won a header against MK Dons.

This was the first time he truly looked suited to the robust nature of the English game, though. He competed for everything and was especially good defending those pesky set pieces.

For me, he remains a player with a massive up-side. Quality left-sided centre backs are generally thin on the ground, and even less so ones comfortable on the ball. Hopefully, his Sunderland career can really kick on now.

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