Mannone interested in Man United – but only beating them

CUP FOCUS ...  Vito Mannone.
CUP FOCUS ... Vito Mannone.

VITO MANNONE insists his only interest in Manchester United is Wednesday’s Capital One Cup semi-final after brushing off speculation about interest from the Premier League champions.

Reports emerged in Italy last week suggesting Man United were tracking Sunderland summer signing Mannone as a potential back-up to first-choice stopper David De Gea.

But Mannone, who endured the frustration of being a back-up stopper at former club Arsenal, has joined his manager Gus Poyet in pouring cold water on the talk.

The Italian says he is enjoying the “best time” of his career as a Premier League regular and is eager to help send Sunderland through to Wembley by getting the better of Man United in this week’s semi-final second leg.

Mannone said: “I don’t really care about this stuff. It happens outside of the football pitch.

“I’m having the best time of my career at Sunderland and I don’t see why I would move right now.

“I want to stay first-choice and build on my performances to improve.

“My only focus is on beating Man United. Wednesday is a massive game for the club and the fans.

“Of course we believe we can get through, we’re not afraid of anything. We’ve lost one in 11, so we’re not going to go there as a team afraid of Man United.

“We have a slight advantage, although that doesn’t count too much.

“But we have to treat it like 0-0, go to Old Trafford and make it to Wembley.”

Mannone’s form over the last two months will inevitably have attracted admirers after the £2m summer capture again impressed in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Southampton.

Mannone believes opposition sides have now grasped that Sunderland’s style has changed dramatically under Poyet and they are now setting out to counter that approach at the Stadium of Light.

And the 25-year-old says it is up to Sunderland to find solutions, as they did on Saturday to fight back from two goals down for the second time in four league outings.

He added: “You have opposition who watch you a lot. You could see how much pressure Southampton put on us.

“They put pressure on each one of us and every time we looked for a pass, we kept giving the ball away.

“It was a great recovery and a great mentality from the team.

“We showed that we can compete at that level.”

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