All the talk today is rightly about Sunderland's absolutely outstanding 2-1 win over Manchester United at the Stadium of Light earlier this afternoon.
Sam Allardyce has said that he believes his new signings have made Sunderland a better team, with new boys Wahbi Khazri and Lamine Kone getting on the score-sheet and an impressive display up front from loanee Dame N'Doye.
Sam told the Evening Chronicle:
It’s a terrific ask for these new players to produce that type of performance after arriving in January.
They’re on their knees in there because they’re not used to the pace of the game here, it’s extremely quick and much quicker than where they’ve come from.
But they’re handling it brilliantly and the ability that they’ve got in possession is making us a better team.
Our new players have made a massive contribution since they’ve been here, but no more so than today with Wahbi’s goal from the free-kick and then his corner for Lamine’s winner. Hopefully that will bode well for the rest of the season.
If the team is better by the signings that we’ve made, the whole squad benefits from that. Our defence looks better with Lamine in there. It looks more solid and our big problem was, and still is, not enough clean sheets.
But we seem to be managing that better now. So we still focus on getting more clean sheets but we’re looking defensively better as a unit. I’m absolutely delighted for the lads, it was a great performance.
It's been a tough few weeks for the players and the club, and with three points on the board they're off for some warm weather training in Dubai, something Sam believes the players have thoroughly deserved:
The good thing for us is that we have two week’s break now, because all those injured players have two weeks to get fit. We should have some of those players back to face West Ham in two weeks’ time.
They’ve got a well-deserved break now, a bit of warm weather training, so when they get on that plane it’s going to feel good.
Not only are they getting a bit of warm weather but we got three points off Man Utd – there can’t be anything better to boost your confidence than that.
Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal could not hide his disappointment at losing, insisting that his side really needed to win today:
We didn’t keep the ball in our team. For example against Chelsea we did do it and that is a big difference because you can control the game. We created chances in the second half, we could have scored also but that is not the problem. I think as Manchester United you have to keep the ball in spite of the pressure of Sunderland and create chances. We didn’t have control in the second half. We didn’t have control in the first 20 minutes, we had control in the second 20 minutes and we scored.
We know in advance that they could score from set plays. They have a taller team, we have to organise it well but the main reason is that always in a match you shall be compared with your opponent in aggression. I think they played with more aggression because they play with direct balls so second balls are very important to win. We didn’t keep the ball too much in our possession. These kinds of matches you have to win, I said that in advance, and we didn’t do that.
Fair points. Sunderland's players deserve praise for the way they performed today, and thoroughly deserved the win.
Elsewhere, Sunderland's players took to twitter to give their thoughts on the win:
Fantastic win,great Team effort.thanks for your great support! #SAFC fans— Vito Mannone (@VitoMannone88) February 13, 2016
Bad dive by me, kids don't do that lol! But great fight from the team to get 3 points today! Support was unreal! #SAFC— DeAndre Yedlin (@yedlinny) February 13, 2016
Sunderland's official Youtube channel went behind the scenes at the Stadium of Light before, during and after the game today.
John O'Shea said the fans were amazing today, and noted that the players will need their continued support if we are to stave off relegation:
New boy Dame N'Doye was impressive today, and he was keen to reiterate that it was a huge win today in our battle against relegation:
Lastly, recent recruit Steve Harper has been vocal over his criticism of the PFA in recent days, citing they don't do enough for players heading towards the end of their careers, and the organisation have hit back at his claims by insisting that Harper's comments are 'unfair'.
PFA deputy chief executive Bobby Barnes said:
The PFA exists for the benefit of its membership and I genuinely believe we provide a good service.
People may well fall through the cracks - I am not saying we are perfect and we will always strive to do more.
But I can honestly say there has never been a player that has picked up the phone to the PFA and asked for assistance who hasn't received it. It is not us saying we disagree with what Steve's saying. What we're saying is a that it is a little bit unfair to label us that we fail players.
I could show you hundreds of case histories of players who have come to us and been delighted with the work we have done for them and grateful for the work we have done for them. But obviously for reasons of confidentiality, we don't tend to publicise that.
And that was the news. Enjoy the three points and match of the day tonight, everyone. I'm sure as hell that I will.