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

Laurence Griffiths

Sunderland once more pulled out a performance in the cup, as a 2-1 victory puts the Black Cats in slight control of the tie. We go over what can be taken from the game.

What The Gaffer Said

I think we did our bit, we made it difficult for them when they were in possession, we tried to defend our way, Manchester United had shots from distance but they didn't create a clear chance.

[The opening goal] It was right at the end of the first-half, which is always important; it's a different meeting at half-time when you score so late but credit to the players - they understood what was needed at the right time.

United scored from a corner which was very difficult to defend, so overall I think that the performance was there - it is little details that change games and maybe today the difference at the end was Johnno [Adam Johnson].

Adam came on and made a few runs and gave us an extra bit on the ball.

[On the penalty] We had a chat this morning about who was taking it and of course Ki [Sung Yueng] was a candidate but Fabio [Borini] is a confident man and he took responsibility and I'm pleased that he scored.

The atmosphere was incredible. Having the opportunity to play at this level in a semi-final against Manchester United and beat them is something that is important for everyone at the club.

I'm sure it's going to bring a little bit of happiness to everyone in the camp.

If you asked me before the game if I would take a one goal lead before the game, I would - I'm not going to hide from that.

The important thing is we need to go there, knowing that it is going to be very difficult, and we need to play our part, we need to defend well and try to score - that would be important to go through.

Marcos [Alonso] looked tired at the end, I was nearly changing him about four times but I'm pleased that he made his debut and that he did well.

He had a difficult task with Valencia and we won the game - you know how important it is for a player to feel part of a winning team.

We're pleased with him and we'll help him to recover him as soon as possible and see how he is ahead of Saturday.

I think it's safe to say we'd have all taken a one goal lead to Old Trafford with us, if offered it!

It was telling that Gus singled out the two players he did. Johnson has put in his two best performances of the season this week for me, and Marcos Alonso has provided us with some early belief that he can be everything we've needed from a left back this season.

The fact Poyet praised Johnson for running with the ball indicates he does want his attacking players to do it as much as we do, and that this theory he wants his sides to walk the ball into the net is nonsense.

Nothing To Fear

Gus also made a great point about never really looking in danger throughout the game. As with Man City earlier in the season, we soaked up most they had to offer and it's clearly the other end of the pitch that still needs the most work doing.

Now, I realise Manchester United aren't having a great season -- something about a transitional period or something -- but it's further proof to us all that we simply don't look like a bottom of the league side.

It's genuinely exciting to imagine how we may play if Gus gets the chance to place better suited players into his system. Let's hope, for the millionth time, that this can be a platform for our league form to kick on... Yeah... De ja vu.

There's also nothing to fear in the return leg. Manchester United have to come at us and that's evidently better for us than playing against sides like Villa and Norwich at home who'll sit back and try and counter.

Manchester United look a lot better on the road than at Old Trafford also and as we're still the less likely to go through, we have nothing to lose.

The Mystery Of Steven Fletcher

Something just isn't quite right with him.

It may be no mystery at all in that he's simply not suited to this system, or it may be that he's just out of form, or even that he wants away. Whatever it is, the club have a bid decision to make as there is certainly interest from rival clubs.

It almost feels like the old case of not wanting him but not wanting anyone else to have him.

Cup Games Rock

100% win rate in the cup this season! It seems obvious to say that the pressure is lifted in these games, thus giving the players freedom to relax, but how can you argue with it?

I'll be frank, I stick up for stay-aways constantly but the attendance last night was disappointing... but you know what? So what! It's made the games seem more intimate and and enjoyable. Maybe it's even affected the outcome in that the players don't feel as tense, who knows?

We're one more cup tie away from a final. Just take it in and enjoy it... come on!

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