Ex-Man Utd pair will toughen up Black Cats

READY TO GO ... Sunderland's Kieran Richardson is upbeat about the coming season.

READY TO GO ... Sunderland's Kieran Richardson is upbeat about the coming season.

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KIERAN Richardson insists Sunderland won’t be such a soft touch from pole position next season.

The Black Cats became the masters of surrendering the advantage last year after throwing away 23 points from winning positions – the worst tally in the top flight.

Considering Sunderland won just once after conceding the opener, April’s victory over Wigan, it sharpened the focus on the inability of Steve Bruce’s men to maintain their spoils.

But Richardson believes that the acquisition of former Manchester United team-mates Wes Brown and John O’Shea will inject some much-needed nous into Sunderland’s backline.

Although the two defenders have had their fitness concerns during pre-season, both boast the experience of what it takes to prevail at the highest level after lifting Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League silverware at Old Trafford.

Richardson said: “Coming from Man United, most of the time in games they’re in the lead, and they know how to hold onto that.

“They’re two great defenders, and I’m sure they’ll be good for the dressing room as well.

“There’s a lot of experience coming into the team with Wes and John, which is great. You need that. Maybe we lacked a bit of that last season.

“They’ve both played at the highest level, and played against the best teams in the world. I’m sure they’ll be a big boost to the team.

“Of course it’s hard moving from Man United. But they feel like it’s their time to move to better their career, and hopefully they can do that.”

Richardson has found himself in the back four for much of pre-season after starting three of Sunderland’s five friendlies at left-back, ahead of today’s trip to Burnley, but the 26-year-old could be deployed on the left-hand side of midfield on the opening day trip to Liverpool.