Ahead of tonight’s Checktrade Trophy clash between Sunderland’s first-team and Newcastle’s U-21’s, Mackems manager Jack Ross has admitted they are in a ‘no-win situation’ – saying it’s a game he wishes they avoided.
Let’s be honest, it’s not the ideal setting for a Tyne and Wear derby, but there’s something a priceless about the fact Sunderland’s drop down into League One means they’re now in a competition that matches their first-team up against our U-21’s.
Sunderland boss Jack Ross is clearly keen to get this over with as well, revealing how the tie is ‘far from ideal’ and a game that creates a lose-lose situation for the club.
Here’s what he’s said ahead of tonight’s game – a match that’s more popular than he’s suggesting given there’s set to be over 20,000 fans in attendance at the Stadium of Light:
‘If I’m honest, the Newcastle tie is far from ideal, it’s a no-win situation for us,”
‘A consequence of our club having two successive relegations is the soreness everyone feels when a fixture like this comes around. The extra motivation for me is to take Sunderland back into this fixture properly.
‘I want to manage this club against Newcastle in a league game, ideally in the Premier League. That’s a task I was given – and I’ve set myself. I’m not going to dress Tuesday’s tie up as something it’s not.
‘We have not spoken a huge amount about the game. Genuinely, for me, it is just another Checkatrade trophy match. It falls between two important league games. The whole club is looking at it like that.’
Interesting that he tries to play it down as best as he can in that final line. It’s a fair point, but let’s not act like Sunderland fans won’t be absolutely devastated if our youngsters come away from the Stadium of Light with a win.
Good luck to our lads tonight. They may get hammered, but they’ve done brilliantly to get this far and tonight will be a big experience for them regardless of the result.