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Sunderland accused of making 'false promises' to Mannone & selecting Pickford to bump up his value

As some mystery remains over Vito Mannone's absence from David Moyes' squad last weekend and Jordan Pickford now restored to the starting eleven ahead of him, a long-time advocate for the Italian accuses Sunderland of making 'false promises' and of being 'ungrateful' to the 28-year-old goalkeeper for his exploits at the club.

Swansea City v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Vito Mannone - Journalist hits out at Sunderland's 'false promises'

Sky Italia journalist Gianluca Di Marzio has hit out at Sunderland over Vito Mannone's treatment this season and accused David Moyes of a 'lack of clarity' and making 'false promises' regarding the goalkeeper's position as number one at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland v Southampton - Premier League
Manolo Gabbiadini scores Southampton's second of four goals past Vito Mannone in the Italian 'keeper’s most recent outing.
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The newsman's criticism will add fuel to speculation that all may not be well with Mannone after the goalkeeper was absent from the squad at Goodison Park last weekend. Especially as Di Marzio appears to enjoy a close relationship with the Sunderland man.

David Moyes claimed after the Everton game that the Italian had been ill but refused to be drawn on whether Jordan Pickford would have started the game ahead of Mannone regardless.

Everton v Sunderland - Premier League
Jordan Pickford limbers up ahead of his return to the starting eleven at Everton
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Who the Sunderland boss would opt for in goal was the major selection question for the trip to Goodison. Many expected Jordan Pickford to get the nod ahead of Mannone following the England goalkeeper's eight week absence from the team with an injury he picked up at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.

In the end, the Mannone's illness appeared to make that decision an easy one for Moyes to make.

Sky man, Di Marzio - who is a long time peer and advocate for the Italians at the Stadium of Light - has today used his column to suggest that Pickford will be selected ahead of Mannone solely to bump up his value ahead of a summer sale and that David Moyes is guilty of overlooking the Italian's vital relegation battle experience.

The reporter also claims that Mannone turned down moves in the January window anticipating that he would remain a starter between the sticks at the Stadium of Light; and suggests that the 28-year-old was told that he was 'unsellable' and that he received 'promises of greater consideration' in the starting line-up.

And on the three year anniversary of Sunderland's appearance in the 2014 League Cup Final, the Sky Italia man even appears to accuse the club and its fans of having forgotten Mannone's heroics in the cup run that season.

Manchester United v Sunderland - Capital One Cup Semi-Final: Second Leg
Mannone is congratulated by his Sunderland teammates for saving a penalty as his side beats Manchester United in the Capital One Cup semi-final in 2014
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Sunderland supporters are well used to Di Marzio and his long-time commentary on the careers of Fabio Borini and Vito Mannone. The Sky Italia presenter has been a regular commentator on their fortunes along with former Director of Football, Roberto De Fanti, with both men agitating in the Italian players' favour.

De Fanti is now agent for both Borini and Mannone and he was active in the January window claiming interest from other clubs in his two clients.

For his part, Fabio Borini was linked with Napoli, AS Roma and AC Milan, whilst Mannone was rumoured to be a target for Palermo and Aston Villa.

In truth both Italian-born players have been poor this season for Sunderland. Borini has been speaking to the media all week describing his difficulty in being used in positions not to his favour.

Burnley v Sunderland - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Replay Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Oblivious to how dire he has been in several matches, the 25-year-old claimed he has had to sacrifice his pursuit of goals for the good of the team, operating in various positions across the Sunderland midfield. The truth of it is that when he was given his chance to shine as a front man in the FA Cup, Borini was poor. And the man who warmed himself to the Stadium of Light faithful for his hard-working committed performances has looked jaded and disinterested since his return from injury in mid-December.

For his part, Vito Mannone has been desperately inconsistent. He returned to the starting eleven on New Years Eve and proceeded to produce a woeful performance as Burnley smashed four past him. But, the goalkeeper then kept Liverpool at bay in the 2-2 draw at the Stadium of Light and went on to keep consecutive clean sheets against Tottenham and Crystal Palace before reverting back to his worst in that most recent appearance, the four-goal thrashing at the hands of Southampton.

Whatever the players’ current gripes, Sky reporter Di Marzio would be well advised to monitor the form of his Italian 'friends' before passing comment on their fates. But more than that, players lining up to make apparent claims of personal injustice - either directly or perhaps through media intermediaries - is a concern as the relegation run-in reaches its climax starting with a difficult game against Manchester City on Sunday.

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