16 May 2024

Sunderland goalkeeper Claudia Moan thrilled to prove ‘every single critic wrong’

16 May 2024

Claudia Moan believes Sunderland have proved their critics wrong this season after finishing third in the Women’s Championship.

The Black Cats were one of three teams involved in a thrilling battle for Women’s Super League promotion, which boiled down to the final two games.

A 1-0 defeat to fellow promotion-hopefuls Charlton in their penultimate match knocked Sunderland out of the race and paved the way for Crystal Palace to earn a maiden WSL promotion.

However, the Black Cats’ third-placed finish completed a remarkable turnaround after narrowly avoiding relegation last year and goalkeeper Moan believes her side have proved “every single critic wrong” this year.

She told PA news agency: “It was the Charlton game that confirmed it. Obviously everyone wanted to go up and it would’ve been a great feeling to have that promotion behind us.

“It showed for us that’s what we can work for, we have the ability to do that.

“I think a lot of people thought we would’ve been down this season, especially after last season, and I think we’ve proved every single critic wrong. That’s just down to everyone wanting the same thing.”

The Black Cats have competed in the Championship since 2021 and avoided the drop last season with a second-from-bottom finish.

They made several new signings ahead of the new season and Moan joked one of the reasons for the team’s turnaround could possibly be attributed to a pre-season camping trip.

“I do think the people who came in this season have had a massive effect on the team. Every single person has got along, it’s not cliquey, everyone is there as a group,” she added.

“It could have even been down to the team bonding we did before the start of the season when we went camping.

“You’re just there with the people you’re getting to know and I thought it was a great way for everyone to become one. Like I said, everyone had that positive mentality.”

Moan had an outstanding season for her home town club, earning both the Championship Player of the Season and Golden Glove awards after keeping 10 clean sheets in 22 games.

The goalkeeper fended off competition from strikers Isobel Goodwin, Katie Wilkinson and top goalscorer Elise Hughes, something Moan admitted came as a surprise.

She said: “When it first came out that I was in the shortlist, I looked at the other three and thought three strikers, one goalkeeper? I’d say it would be more towards strikers because that’s how it is, they score goals.

“I was surprised. Out of the four people nominated, the three strikers have had incredible seasons. I know I’ve done my bit but the strikers… I’m shocked but really happy.”

Sunderland have not competed in the WSL since their demotion to the third tier in 2018 and they are aiming for a top-flight return, a place Moan believes the club belong.

“I’m from Sunderland, I’m a Sunderland supporter, to see what happened to Sunderland when they were in the Super League – I was only a teenager then but it was sad to see and disappointing to see,” she said.

“I think Emma Hayes said it when we were coming up against them in the Continental Cup, she was giving praise to Sunderland because everyone knows that where Sunderland belong is in the Super League.”

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