Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mannone Enjoying the Competition; Mannone Enjoying Cats Battle for Places

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mannone Enjoying the Competition; Mannone Enjoying Cats Battle for Places

Article excerpt

VITO Mannone says there is no room for complacency in the battle for Sunderland's number one shirt - despite the Italian edging ahead of summer signing Costel Pantilimon in the early season race, writes MARK DOUGLAS.

The Black Cats earned their first win of the season on Saturday and are 13th in the early-season standings after Gus Poyet's summer rebuild job turned them into a more composed unit. The signing of Romania goalkeeper Pantilimon in the summer was intended to push Mannone to new heights this year, and was brokered even though the Italian scooped player of the year honours.

The deal prompted speculation that Mannone was unhappy with Sunderland's hierarchy for recruiting direct competition, but the ex-Arsenal man swiftly rebutted that, and has knuckled down to keep a firm grasp on the goalkeeper's jersey. Mannone has kept three clean sheets so far this season - not a bad return given that he has only started six matches.

And he says the pressure on him from "good lad" Pantilimon has been a much-needed boost: "Being made to wait for your chance like I was makes you appreciate it and I'm enjoying it very much. It's everything I ever wanted and finally I'm getting the chances I think I deserve for the work I've put in."

Stoppers often talk about a 'goalkeeper's union' as a way of explaining how they manage to work and get along with players who are a direct threat to their place in the starting XI.

It is a myth that they all get on well - indeed Mannone admits that he has worked with some who have undermined him - but there is affection between the Italian and the summer arrival. And he says that there will be no animosity from him if boss Gustavo Poyet decides to opt for the Romanian for the rest of the campaign.

He said: "That's football. That's the difference between being a good lad and not (being a good lad). …

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