NIALL Quinn says Sunderland must instantly put their first defeat of the season behind them, especially with the derby game against Newcastle United next on the fixture list.
The former Sunderland player, manager and chairman was at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday to see Premier League champions Manchester City cruise past Martin O’Neill’s men far too easily on their way to a 3-0 win.
Working as a Sky Sports pundit, the Irishman got a close-up view of Sunderland’s disappointingly flat performance.
But he said Sunderland needed to put the defeat into context – the Black Cats being beaten by the Premier League champions at a ground on which they are almost invincible – and lift themselves for the derby match at the Stadium of Light on Sunday, October 21.
“The Newcastle game is always massive and determines the mood of the people up there for weeks afterwards,” he said.
“It’s going to be a blood, guts, and thunder game and crucial for Sunderland – and if Steven Fletcher gets the winner there will be songs written about him!”
Fletcher, who has scored five goals in five league games, was starved of service at the Etihad and it is vital Sunderland make better use of him in their next game.
Quinn, though, says O’Neill will have seen where the game went wrong and will already be looking for ways to improve.
“I don’t think Sunderland used the outlet of Steven Fletcher enough,” said Quinn, who celebrated his 47th birthday on Saturday.
“It is difficult playing against Man City but instead of trying to bring Fletcher into play they would knock it around the defence and eventually hoof it forward in a poor way.
“I think Martin will slowly and surely build a team that will defend well and be organised as possible.
“The next step for him is to find a dynamic push to the team that gets them to score goals and players confident enough to take people on.
“At times against City they were so worried about making mistakes that they ended up giving the ball away. We thought the two wingers, Adam Johnson and James McClean, would be key for Sunderland. but they spent the day defending.”
Quinn, though, said Sunderland had to be realistic about the challenge they faced on a day when Roberto Mancini’s men finally found some real form.
And he pointed out that the Black Cats will not face too many teams this season who are as fluent and formidable.
“City played with the swagger of true champions,” he said. “The game was very comfortable for them and, at times, you were wincing and hoping for Sunderland that it wasn’t going to be a really big score.
“They have had results this season, but this match was more about performance and style. City completely toppled teams at times last year and their fans will be going home thinking: ‘We are right at it again now’.
“City look ready to go on.”