JAMES McClean believes Sunderland can take encouragement from Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Manchester United. With a little more luck, they might have been able to take a point as well.
The Black Cats were unfortunate to meet the table-topping Red Devils in rampant form, with Robin van Persie, Ashley Young and – in everything but his finishing – Wayne Rooney on top of their games.
However, they were able to keep the hosts just about within touching distance and missed chances which could have given the scoreline a very misleading look.
According to McClean, the spirit shown in doing that meant Sunderland were able to leave Old Trafford with positives to add to those from Tuesday’s morale-boosting win over Reading.
“They’re a world-class side,” said the Republic of Ireland winger, who was playing there for the first time.
“It took us time to settle down a little but then we gave a good account of ourselves and in the second half we made plenty of chances.
“You never know, on another day we might have got something.”
McClean had Sunderland’s first chance, after 24 minutes of one-way traffic had gleaned only Van Persie and Tom Cleverley goals.
Taking advantage of a lapse in Rio Ferdinand’s concentration, he forced a save from David de Gea.
Craig Gardner, Connor Wickham and Stéphane Sessègnon (twice) followed suit, while McClean tested the Spaniard from distance and saw a 56th-minute cross nearly loop in off Paul Scholes before Frazier Campbell headed in a 72nd-minute consolation goal.
After the matcha bemused United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was forced to admit tha,t after the hour mark, his side had lost its grip on a game which until then they excelled in.
McClean admitted: “The movement of Rooney and van Persie is frightening.
“We can all learn from that. They are two world-class strikers and they haven’t scored the most goals in the league for nothing, but that said I think we did give a good account of ourselves.
“We had very good chances ourselves, I had one and there were a few for other players as well. On another day we might have scored a few more, so I think we can be encouraged by what we did.”