Former Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone reckons he left the Stadium of Light this summer with one eye on promotion to the Premier League with new club Reading.
With the Royals faring little better than his former side, that may yet be a big ask with Jap Staam’s team currently fifth bottom of the Championship, but 4 points better off than the Black Cats.
Mannone was instrumental in Reading’s morale-boosting victory over Leeds United 5 days ago, saving an injury time penalty from Pablo Hernandez to consign the Championship’s early pace setters to a first home defeat of the season. Check it out below.
The Italian stopper was sold by Sunderland for £2m in the summer with chief executive Martin Bain hailing the sale as an example of the new drive for “efficiency” at the Stadium of Light with Mannone having just a year to run on his contract.
That boast looks a little thin right now with the Italian’s replacements at Sunderland Jason Steele and Robbin Ruiter looking anything but solid. Black Cats boss Simon Grayson lept to the defence of the former after last weekend’s shaky display and has a big call to make for Saturday’s clash with Brentford over who to pick in goal.
Regardless, Mannone has insisted he swapped Wearside for Berkshire with an eye on a swift return to the Premier League:
I came here for promotion and I still believe we can get it. I believed it from day one and I haven’t changed my mind because a few results have gone wrong to begin with.
Reading’s early season form has mirrored that of Sunderland in some ways. A promising start saw a draw with Fulham and a win against Aston Villa but a run of 8 games without victory followed before last Saturday’s three points at Elland Road.
Mannone will be between the sticks at Brammall Lane this weekend as Reading travel to Sheffield United. The Royals were one of the early season fancied outsiders for promotion after making the play-offs last term.
That poor run which has returned 5 points from nine games has meant some Reading fans have turned on Jap Staam but Mannone has insisted managerial change is not the answer after his experiences at Sunderland:
I can assure [Reading] fans I’ve had a change of manager five times in the past four years. It’s very difficult when a new manager comes in.
New players arrive, others go out and there’s a change of playing style. It can take six months to understand what the manager wants and mould to it. So from my experience it’s difficult.
Mannone will make his return to the Stadium of Light on December 2nd with his new side and the popular Italian goalkeeper will be assured of a warm welcome from a home crowd who still recall his 2014 League Cup heroics with fondness.