There was a moment in the second half when Craig Gordon clinched my vote.
Despite great admiration for the way Simon Mignolet has performed, and without the slightest doubt that he has a potentially wonderful future which I hope will be with us, I regard Gordon as Sunderland’s No 1 keeper.
The incident I recall was over in a flash, The ball was travelling head height, straight at Gordon but hard and with a Spurs forward’s head inches away. The assurance with which the keeper caught it somehow trumped, for me, the string of saves he had to produce in the first half.
Even the mild criticism I made of his role in the Tottenham goal is tempered by the belief that he can hardly be faulted for seeing the immediate danger as the aerial power of the lurking Crouch.
In all, it was a highly successful return to the Sunderland starting team, fittingly at the ground where last season he suffered a bad injury from a lunge from Defoe that ought to have been punished but wasn’t.
So I am pleased to read Steve Bruce’s comments to the official SAFC site:
“He’s been knocking on my door. He is the number one goalkeeper.
But the one thing I didn’t want to do was take Simon out of the team having had five goals past him.
We’ve tried to protect him a little bit. Craig proved again at Spurs that he’s a very, very good goalkeeper.”
I hope Mignolet can live with the disappointment and draw strength from the fact that Bruce, taking his remarks at face value, clearly does not hold him to blame for events at St James’ Park. And, with an eye to recent speculation, I hope with equal fervour that Craig is not even thinking of himself as being in the shop window.