Ki: Sunderland worked hard in the middle against Manchester United

Ki Sung Yueng.
Ki Sung Yueng.
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KI SUNG-YEUNG believes three can be the magic number for Sunderland in their bid to move off the Premier League’s basement.

Managerless Sunderland’s miserable start to the season continued on Saturday after reigning champions Manchester United inflicted a fifth successive league defeat on the Black Cats to leave them six points adrift of safety.

But on-loan Swansea City midfielder Ki believes it was Sunderland’s best performance of the campaign so far, even if he felt his own contribution was under par.

Caretaker boss Kevin Ball has introduced a five-man midfield during his two league games in charge after abandoning the 4-4-2 system used by the sacked Paolo Di Canio.

And Ki, who will be ineligible for the trip to parent club Swansea after the international break on October 19, believes the use of three central midfielders has suited Sunderland after running both Liverpool and United close during Ball’s temporary stewardship.

He told the Echo: “I think we worked very hard in the middle three.

“It’s better for the team as well against the stronger teams to have three players there.

“The big teams have quality players in the middle, so we have to stop them.

“But I think the system has worked well in terms of team-work.

“It wasn’t my best game on Saturday, but it happens during the season.

“I just want to get better and better and show the fans I’m capable of helping this team.”

Ki admits Sunderland’s failure to add to Craig Gardner’s opening goal cost the Black Cats after Ball’s side created several opportunities before the interval, albeit it took a stunning save from David De Gea to deny Emanuele Giaccherini a third goal in as many games.

Teenager Adnan Januzaj made Sunderland pay in the second half with a spectacular six-minute brace before the hosts tired badly during the finale.

“We’re very disappointed that we couldn’t get a better result in the second half,” added Ki, who has been included in the South Korea squad for friendlies against Brazil and Mali.

“But I think it was our best performance of the season in the first half.

“The boys tried really hard to press the ball, squeeze them up and we scored a goal.

“In the second half, they scored with their two chances so it’s disappointing.

“But I think we’ve got to take the positives from our best performance so far and we’ll look forward to the next game.

“We had good chances in the first half, but we didn’t score them. That happens.

“We could have won the game if we had taken them.

“After the first half, we were expecting to win the game, or at least to draw, but the two finishes he scored were fantastic.

“Maybe that’s the difference between the top teams – when they have the chances, they score.”