Advocaat rules out repeat thrashing
Published 01/05/2015 | 17:11
Dick Advocaat made himself sit through a video nasty as he plotted a way to get the better of his former midfield general.
The Sunderland head coach made himself watch the Black Cats' 8-0 horror show at Southampton in October in preparation for the reverse fixture at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, with the club's need for Barclays Premier League points having increased dramatically during the intervening period.
Advocaat will go head-to-head with Saints boss Ronald Koeman, who played at the heart of his midfield during his spell as Holland manager, with his team sitting in the relegation zone and desperately needing a win to ease their fears of the drop.
He did not put his players through the traumatic experience of watching a re-run of their nightmare on the south coast or even discuss it with them, but he is at least confident there will be no repeat this time around.
The Dutchman said: "I don't think it's a good idea to discuss that game again. I saw the game two days ago - we gave the goals away really, really easily and definitely that will not happen tomorrow.
"Own goals, some mistakes from the goalie, some mistakes from the defence, I didn't think you could make that many mistakes in one game.
Victory over Southampton would represent a major boost to the Black Cats' hopes of hauling themselves out of trouble for the second successive season, although, having managed to claim three points in just one of their last 10 league outings, that could prove challenging against a side currently just a point shy of the European places.
In addition, Advocaat has immense respect for Koeman and the job he has done at the St Mary's Stadium and beyond.
He said: "I knew him quite well already as a player when he was in the national team and I was team manager.
"He was a brilliant player and he's a very good coach and he has proved that in the past with several clubs in Holland and also Valencia and Benfica, and now he's doing it with Southampton. I'm not surprised about that.
"He was a midfielder and passer like (Pep) Guardiola, but he had a great touch from the back. He was a little bit of an underrated player because he was a world-class footballer.
"He was more or less the playmaker from the back. He started the passes from the back and, if you see that kind of situation then, you know that kind of person will become a coach."
Sunderland will once again be without striker Steven Fletcher as he battles an ankle injury, but midfielder Adam Johnson has been included in the squad after being left out last weekend because he was not mentally ready after being charged with three offences of sexual activity with a child under 16 and one of grooming.
Southampton will be missing Morgan Schneiderlin as the midfielder has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Midfielder Dusan Tadic (groin) is also not available, but Victor Wanyama returns from suspension.
Forward Jay Rodriguez has started some training after his serious knee injury, but goalkeeper Fraser Forster is a long-term absentee.
Southampton boss Koeman believes fellow Dutchman Advocaat will keep Sunderland fighting "to the last second to stay in the Premier League" - but will be out to make his former manager's job a bit harder on Saturday.
The 67-year-old ex-Rangers boss was parachuted into the Stadium of Light to try to keep the Black Cats up, which looks set to be one of his toughest challenges with Sunderland currently third bottom, although with a match in hand.
"He is a very experienced manager, but it is very difficult to change a lot in a short time," said Koeman.
"Sunderland are really in a difficult situation, but always you have surprises in the last part of the season with the results.
"At least Advocaat will give them the right fighting spirit to fight to the last second to stay in the Premier League.
"It is all about confidence. You can talk to the players, to give them this confidence, but between the lines, the players have to play."