Mannone sees Black Cats' potential

by Stuart Vose

Italian stopper ready for Sunderland challenge.

Vito Mannone feels he’s joined a club with big potential after linking up with countryman Paolo Di Canio at Sunderland.

Mannone completed his move from Arsenal on the first day of pre-season training as the squad returned to the Academy of Light.

Prior to signing, the stopper had the opportunity to look around the facilities at the Black Cats’ training HQ and says the infrastructure is comparable to a top-four club.

“The potential [of the club] is incredible,” he explained.

“I have come from a big club but to be honest I don’t see any difference in the facilities.

“From what I can see on my first day they are brilliant.

“To have good facilities where you can work and improve is something every club wants to achieve.

“The base is there and I am really happy to be here.”

He added: “I waited a long time for an opportunity like Sunderland, and for me it is a great one.

“I’m very excited. I am here to work hard and to show what I can do.”

Mannone is set to battle Republic of Ireland international Keiren Westwood for the job of first-choice goalkeeper.

But competition is something Mannone relishes as the pair get set to stake their respective claims during pre-season.

“Of course, every player knows they have competition,” he said.

“We live in a world of competition. I will work and do my best to be in the first eleven, and then the manager will decide.

“All I can do is try to show what I am capable of.”

The move north sees Mannone end a long-standing association with Arsenal having first arrived at Highbury in 2005 prior to the club’s relocation to the Emirates Stadium.

The Italian experienced both Barclays Premier League and UEFA Champions’ League football while with the Gunners and says his long stay with the North London club will stand him in good stead.

“I had a great experience at Arsenal – it was a good learning curve for me,” he explained.

“I was really young when I joined them and straight away I was with the first team in pre-season back in 2005.

“Then I went through all the steps – under-18s, reserves – before reaching the first team.

“It has been a great experience, even I was probably a bit restricted in terms of opportunities. I learned a lot.”