Quick Kicks: Thoughts And Reaction From Sunderland 4-2 MK Dons

Chris Brunskill

Phew, that was intense. Sunderland won a pulsating cup tie at the death against a very good MK Dons side. Here is what we thought of it.

What The Gaffer Said

During the game Paolo Di Canio looked like he was going to explode for most of it, so it was an understandably relieved man that emerged afterwards.

We can be happy with the win; when you come back like we did it's something special - it's not very often you score four goals in 13 minutes; that was special.

We made the fans and the club happy and ourselves in some way, but I have to be strict on this because I did not enjoy the first 75 minutes.

If we only focus on the last 15 minutes then we are never going to improve. It is my job to keep everybody's feet on the ground because otherwise it will be difficult.

My team are still a work in progress.

What we can take from this game is heart and pride, the team showed great desire and ambition and they never gave up.

It was an incredible cup game.

I don't know how you are supposed to react to a game like that, really. To be THAT bad for 75 minutes then score four and win the game felt like one giant and supremely well-orchestrated trolling exercise.

I personally wanted to lay into every one of them, but at the end of the day they won the game. Perhaps the pride they showed in fighting back is more heartening than the shocking performance that preceded is disheartening.

After all, a good side can have a bad game, but a side can't show any heart if they don't have any.

Fitness!

This was something that we were repeatedly told about by Swindon fans since appointing Di Canio. They told us his teams finish games remarkably strongly due to their conditioning and this was probably the first taster we got of it.

In the final 15 minutes of the game, Sunderland were like a runaway train. There was a little quality lacking but it was just wave after wave of attack beating down the MK Dons defence and the pressure eventually told.

You'll need more to break a Premier League team's resistance, no question, but good to see some tangible evidence of the fitness Di Canio has stressed the importance of since day one.

Ji

This was not a night to savour for the Ji Dong-won fan club!

For me, Ji proved his quality in Germany last season. He showed he has it and has plenty of it too. But it is no good having it if you don't have the fortitude to use it, and serious questions about his mental strength have arisen from this game.

It is true that the crowd were on his back from the first minute. He wasn't the only player to be giving it away or making mistakes, but he was the one getting it in the neck. Even with that said, his performance on the night was indefensibly bad.

The biggest worry was that he seemed to allow the crowd reaction to affect him, and for anyone hoping for a career at Sunderland that is bad news. It is simply a weakness you can not afford in the north east.

The coaching staff rate him and there is ability to work with (though that may be tough to believe after last night!), but it wouldn't surprise me if he has shown himself to be too much of a risk now considering a decent offer from Germany could probably still be found before the deadline.

Madness Of Seb

After Southampton I was more than happy to send a little praise Seb Larsson's way, but that was for his disciplined and often under-heralded defensive work. Tonight he showed why he causes so much frustration.

From a technical standpoint, Larsson is a very proficient player. I just wish he'd trust himself a bit more because he seems to lack the courage to play the killer pass.

It isn't that he doesn't see it. He does. You can tell he does because he spends ages on the ball dwelling over whether or not to play it. He looks at it, stops, takes an extra touch, half plays it and stops again, does a little turn... then the opportunity has gone and he reverts to the safe, non-progressive option.

Quite frankly, it's maddening!

Altidore

One positive from the full 90 minutes was Jozy Altidore. He tucked away the all-important first goal and was desperately unlucky to see a brilliant first-half effort hit the post.

It was especially good to see the competitive side of his game though. Too often you get these big burly strikers who are easily bullied by centre backs, but the more Altidore was kicked - and he was kicked a lot - the more he responded.

It is painfully obvious that he wants the ball played earlier though, and a midfielder with the confidence and ability to do it arriving in the next few days could make it a seriously fruitful scoring season for the American.

Full Backs! Actual Full Backs!

One of the most enjoyable things was seeing Ondrej Celustka charging down the outside of Johnson and cutting the ball back from the byline for the equalising goal.

Jack Colback did the same earlier for a chance Connor Wickham missed so it is obviously something that they have been working on this summer. It was just nice to see some Sunderland full backs playing like modern ones do for once. Long may it continue!

Matchwinner Wickham

Any time a substitute comes on and makes one before scoring two himself, that player must be heralded for his impact.

Things haven't gone that great for Wickham at Sunderland so far but I do think we often forget just how young he is. He looked confident and strong in this one, though, like he is finally starting to develop his game.

It's a big season for him and it's great to see Di Canio taking a genuine interest in his football education. Nothing would delight me more than seeing him really kick on this season.

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