Sport Soccer

Saturday 24 March 2018

Poyet keen to haunt Newcastle again

Sunderland manager Gustavo Poyet hopes to inflict more pain on Newcastle United
Sunderland manager Gustavo Poyet hopes to inflict more pain on Newcastle United

Gus Poyet is desperate to remain a thorn in Newcastle's side.

The 45-year-old Uruguayan repeatedly thwarted the Magpies' ambitions during his playing days with Chelsea - for whom he scored both goals in a 2-1 FA Cup semi final victory at Wembley in April 2000 - and Tottenham to the extent that then manager Sir Bobby Robson described him as a "menace" and once jokingly said he hated him.

On Sunday, he will lead his Sunderland side into derby battle with the old enemy at the Stadium of Light hoping to extend the hoodoo, although admitting there will be little he can do about it once the first whistle has blown.

Asked about his record against Newcastle, Poyet said: "Yes, but I'm not playing. My whole career in England has been always linked to Newcastle somehow for the good and the bad. I just hope the good ones continue and we can win the game.

"But I don't think it's going to be a game that's going to be won by me or by Alan Pardew. This game will be won on the pitch. We will try to help them, of course, because we need to make good decisions."

Poyet's fortunes against the men from St James' Park have remained positive during his fledgling managerial career to date with the South American having guided former club Brighton to FA Cup victory over the Magpies in each of the last two seasons.

Indeed, he boasts a 100 per cent record against Alan Pardew, and that is a statistic who would dearly love to remain intact by the time he heads for home on Sunday evening.

Poyet said: "I hope it doesn't finish now. One hundred per cent is not going to stay for ever, but if there was one time that we need to maintain that 100 per cent, this is it."

Victory over Newcastle - something the Black Cats have achieved only once on Wearside since April 1980 - would be significant for a variety of reasons, not least that it would be their first anywhere in the Barclays Premier League this season.

A return of one point from their first eight games has left them anchored to the foot of the table and in severe danger of being cast adrift - the gap to 17th place is already seven points - unless they can halt the slide soon.

Predecessor Paolo Di Canio also faced Newcastle in his second game at the helm, in his case at St James', and he returned with a famous 3-0 victory.

Poyet, whose first game in charge ended in a sobering 4-0 defeat at Swansea, admitted a repeat on home soil would be perfect.

He said: "I would take that result now, yes. Sometimes there are coincidences in football, but until it happens, it's difficult to analyse. But it is true that we need to win and this is a perfect game for us. It's the typical game that the fans would like you to win. From what I have seen in town, the only thing they ask is to win this game. Apparently there is nothing after, there are no more games, it is only this one.

"Maybe we should take it like that. This is a game we need to win."

Defender Wes Brown could make a first competitive appearance for the club since January last year after finally shaking off the calf problem which has sidelined him since pre-season.

Poyet said: "If you need experience and intelligence and players who have played at the highest level in the biggest games, he is one of them, so I wouldn't be too worried on that side.

"It's something that we have been struggling with, the mental side, so mentally, I don't think there could be a better player.

"Now the thing is he needs to be able to compete, of course, and last for 90 minutes, so we will see how he reacts to the last four sessions."

Press Association

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