Advocaat urges fans to get behind Sunderland in derby
Dick Advocaat has ordered his Sunderland players to treat today's derby showdown with Newcastle at the Stadium of Light as a cup final.
However, the 67-year-old Dutchman is placing no greater importance on this clash than any of the other seven remaining games of a campaign which is balanced on a knife-edge.
Advocaat, whose first game at the helm ended in a 1-0 defeat at West Ham, said: "At the beginning when I arrived, I talked to them about nine finals, and that's the way it is. The second final is Newcastle. I think we have to think about it in that way. It's a very important game to show them what we can do, and if we can get the result we want, it will give them a lift again.
"Last week, I was a little bit disappointed that we conceded a goal in the last minute against West Ham because one point would have been a good result there. The players understand the importance of this game, and not only this game, but every game that will come in the next weeks."
That point would have doubled Sunderland's slim advantage over 18th-placed Burnley, who headed into the weekend with the Black Cats firmly in their sights.
It will be Advocaat's first experience of this particular local rivalry, but by no means his first derby after travelling the world during his successful career.
Indeed, having experienced the white heat of the Old Firm hostilities in Scotland during his spell as Rangers boss, he knows exactly what to expect, and what a weapon home advantage can be.
"I know from the Rangers fans how important it is to get them behind you. They can be a really key factor in this game. If they stand straight from the beginning behind our club, then it will give the players a lift, there's no doubt about that."
Sunderland have won the last four meetings with their arch-rivals, and are seeking an unprecedented fifth victory in the fixture which means more than any other on both sides of the divide.
However, they have managed just two league wins on their own pitch all season and were trounced 4-0 by Aston Villa last time out.
Goals have been at a premium - they have managed only two in their last seven league games - and that needs to change sooner rather than later if they are to dig themselves out of a hole.
Advocaat will welcome midfield enforcer Lee Cattermole back from suspension - and has confirmed that he will start - although he will be without defender Wes Brown as he faces up to a month on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Sunday Indo Sport