How Manchester City are providing Sunderland with play-off motivation ahead of Portsmouth clash
Sunderland midfielder Max Power believes his side should take inspiration from Manchester City ahead of their play-off bout with Portsmouth.
The Black Cats have an opportunity to seal an immediate return to the Championship via the end of season lottery, but Power is targeting bigger and better things.
And the 25-year-old, who won promotion from League One with Wigan Athletic last season, believes play-off success could just be the start for Sunderland.
Having drawn inspiration from the meteoric rise of Manchester City, Power is hoping to see his side emulate the achievements of the Citizens - and ultimately return to the top flight once again.
“I watched a programme the other night on Man City when they dropped down to League One, and beat Gillingham in the play-off final, and they view that as a major turning point in their history,” said the midfielder, speaking to the Football League Paper.
“That’s how we’ve got to treat it. We can put Sunderland up a division – it’s a huge club and we want to be fighting in a better division.
“I look at that Man City team and listening to Paul Dickov and Nicky Weaver, who were being interviewed, a lot of what they were saying was relevant to us.
“I think, at one point, Man City dropped to 12th in the table but still got out of it.
“We’ve got an opportunity now to make it a successful season.”
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In the shorter-term, Sunderland will have to overcome Portsmouth to have any chance of exiting League One at the first attempt.
And the big game feeling surrounding the game will be nothing new for Power, who has had to deal with the expectation surrounding the club throughout the campaign.
But the midfielder believes his side can be confident ahead of the play-off and has backed the Black Cats to seal promotion.
“Sunderland have had some tough years and it’s not an easy club to play for as, at this level, we’re expected to win every game, and rightly so,” Power added.
“It’s been a new experience for me in terms of dealing with those expectations and it’s tough at times.
“Every game this season for someone else has been their biggest game of the season and that’s something else that we’ve had to deal with.
“Every away game we’ve been to has had a cup match atmosphere, everyone seems to raise their game against Sunderland – but I’ve been there myself, being at Tranmere and Wigan, and it’s human nature to raise your game against the big clubs.
“Going into the play-offs, Sunderland’s a huge scalp, so we know what we’re going to be up against but it’s something that we’ve faced all season.
"I’m certain we’ve got enough in the dressing room to go and win these play-offs.”