Welcome one and all to this ‘Game On’ article which will take us through the highs and lows as we travel to local rivals 5under1and for today’s Premier league game (4pm kick-off), having lost the last four meetings with the Mackems – the latest of which came just before Christmas when Adam Johnson struck a last-gasp winner at the Gallowgate End to break our hearts again.
But John Carver is determined to change United’s fortunes today and was speaking ahead of today’s clash.
“Growing up as a Newcastle fan it’s the first fixture you look for on the list,” he said.
“As a manager it’s a proud moment. We all know it’s one of the biggest games in the North-East and so it’s something I’m more than looking forward to.
“Our record isn’t very good and so I’m looking to break that. I think we have more than enough in the dressing room to do so. It’s a big occasion and we don’t want to make it five losses in a row.”
Carver also rejected suggestions that his overseas stars will not understand the importance of the fixture against their neighbours from Wearside.
“There’s a lot of people out there that say our foreign players won’t understand what the derby means,.
“But the majority of players in our dressing room have played in at least one and we drum into all of them how important this fixture is.
“Hopefully over the last four games they’ll have felt a bit of hurt because I certainly have, and sometimes that’s what you need to spur you on.
“It’s a cup final for us and that’s how we’ll treat it. Any team of mine that goes up against Sunderland will not be faulted for lack of effort, determination or not knowing what it means to the Club and the fans. I’ll be driving those guys forward.”
Sunderland appointed Dick Advocaat as their head coach last month following the departure of Gus Poyet from the Stadium of Light hot seat.
And while he and Carver may have seemed an unlikely pairing to be coming head-to-head at the start of the season, the latter believes he may hold the advantage.
“At least I know what this game means, whereas it’s Dick’s first derby,” said Carver.
“He’s in a difficult situation because he’s only had a couple of weeks to get to know his players. I’m sure he’ll get them prepared, he’ll have been able to get a couple of things across and he’s got a boost in the return of Cattermole.
“Sunderland have outworked us in previous games and that’s not a good stat to have – I don’t like that.
“If we can cover anywhere near as much ground with the same intensity as we did against Arsenal then we have a great chance at winning.
“I think we have everything to play for. We have a lot to prove. It’s not good enough to lose the last four derby games and I’ll be banging that drum in the dressing room without a doubt.”
So with the talking out of the way it’s time to show what we have and make sure we don’t give them anymore bragging rights.
Howay the Lads
5under1and Pantilimon, Jones, van Aanholt, O’Shea (c), Vergini, Cattermole, Gomez, Larsson, Fletcher, Wickham, Defoe.
Subs Bridcutt, Johnson, Reveillere, Graham, Coates, Buckley, Mannone.
Newcastle United Krul, R.Taylor, Janmaat, Williamson, Colback, Sissoko (c), Gutierrez, Gouffran, Ameobi, Cabella, Perez.
Subs Elliot, Anita, Abeid, Kemen, Obertan, Riviere, Armstrong.