How Have We Fared?
All things considered, February was a decent month in terms of results.
We kicked things off with a midweek clash with Manchester City and, although nobody expected us to take anything from the game, we almost did and despite losing 1-0 it was a hugely promising team performance and a sign that things might be on the upturn. New players made their debuts and impressed, whilst Jan Kirchhoff was given a new lease of life in midfield and stole the show, taking the man of the match award.
Next was a trip to Liverpool, and though Sunderland traditionally take nothing from Anfield - and probably shouldn't have this time around having been 2-0 down with ten minutes to go - we managed a point, with late goals from he who shall not be named and Jermain Defoe earning Big Sam's men a draw.
It was important that Sunderland followed up the Liverpool result with a positive performance at home to Manchester United and we did just that, beating Louis Van Gaal's side for the first time ever at the Stadium of Light. An early goal from Wahbi Khazri kicked things off and, despite a clever finish from Anthony Martial, it was Sunderland who took all three points as Lamine Kone rose to meet Wahbi Khazri's cross, powering a header through David De Gea and into the net.
We rounded off February with a disappointing 1-0 defeat to high-flying West Ham United. A catalogue of individual errors from both the players and the manager meant it was a day to forget, but we move on.
All in all, you have to be fairly content with what we've gained from the four games played. If someone offered us four points from four games against sides challenging for European places we'd have been happy. It's imperative now, though, that Sunderland move into March and win games against the likes of Crystal Palace and Newcastle United.
Who Were The Readers Picks?
After each game we post a player ratings article and at the end we ask our readers to vote on who they think the man of the match was.
The man of the match by some distance against Manchester City was Jan Kirchhoff, who ran away with the reader's poll garnering a staggering 905 votes - a 79% share overall. His performance in front of the home supporters did much to dampen the initial fears that Kirchhoff was a poor buy, comfortably standing out in the middle of the park up against the likes of Yaya Toure and Fernandinho.
Away at Liverpool it was the influence of Tunisian playmaker Wahbi Khazri that dragged Sunderland from behind to secure a point, and as a result he earned 50% of your overall votes, collecting 456 in total.
Against Manchester United Khazri was the man again and his goal and assist which won us the game earned him 494 votes, a 43% overall share.
Having suffered an injury early on against Manchester United Jan Kirchhoff recovered in time for the trip to West Ham United and, much like against Manchester City, he stood out a mile - as a result he earned 475 of your votes, a whopping 74% of the total votes.
Who Has Had A Bad Month?
It has been a month to forget for Billy Jones. Appalling performances against Manchester City and Liverpool, coupled with picking up an injury late in the game at Anfield, meant Jones came out with an overall player rating score of 3.5, the lowest of any of the Sunderland players that featured during February.
Dame N'Doye has featured either as a substitute or a starter in all four of February's games but he's failed to generally impress, collecting a score of 5.0 overall. His showing against Manchester United was better but at the weekend he was very poor and question marks will be raised over his inclusion in the side when Crystal Palace travel to Wearside tomorrow evening.
Who Has Had A Good Month?
Elsewhere, the majority of the Sunderland squad have had a decent month and it's indicative of how we look more like a team, and not a collection of individuals.
Jan Kirchhoff was man of the match against both Manchester City and West Ham United and, had he not gone down injured early in the Manchester United game, we may well be talking about him as Sunderland's top overall performer in February. Nonetheless, his impressive overall score of 7.0 sees him finish third place in our player of the month standings.
In second place - running the winner very close as he's only 0.5 behind - in John O'Shea, who has quietly proven this month that there is still life in the old dog yet, turning out some highly consistent performances against some of the best teams in the Premier League. O'Shea hasn't put a foot wrong for quite some time and it's refreshing to see him play with the type of swagger he once did when playing under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Roker Report Player Of The Month - Lamine Kone - 7.5
Nobody could have envisaged just how great Lamine Kone has started life at Sunderland. The way he's seamlessly slotted in has been brilliant to watch and you can't help but feel it was well worth being as persistent as we were in securing his signing, such was the protracted nature of his transfer to the club throughout January.
Kone's debut against Manchester City officially announced him as a Premier League player and I feel we'll be talking about the way he left Yaya Toure face down chewing grass for quite some time. Kone showed his immense strength, power, pace and ability on the ball against one of the best sides in world football, and it was a great foil for the rest of February's games.
Away at Liverpool Kone was outstanding again, but in the home fixture with Manchester United he was perhaps his best, not giving Wayne Rooney a sniff whilst also securing the winner - and the three points - for his new club.
Kone was solid again at West Ham United at the weekend and it must be pleasing for Sam Allardyce knowing Lamine could well have been lining up on the opposite side had the Ivorian signed with West Ham last year when Allardyce was manager there.
Lamine Kone is exactly what our defence needed and his impact throughout February has been nothing short of remarkable. What a bargain!