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New Sunderland boss well aware of the importance of a Wear-Tyne derby
HE might not have experienced the full extent of a Wear-Tyne derby, but Gus Poyet feels well prepared for what Sunday's events throw up after a little walk down a Sunderland street this week.
It will be the Sunderland boss' first taste of the explosive occasion but his little chat with a local provided a reminder of just what it will be like to inflict defeat and disappointment on a major rival.
Poyet may never have worked previously in the North-East, but he thinks he knows what tomorrow will be like for him and his recently appointed coaching team.
“In terms of training, concentration and preparation it is the same, but it is a derby,” said Poyet. “You feel it in the streets. On Wednesday I was in town, and people only ask you to win this game. 'This is the one you need to win,' they would say.
“I asked one of them, 'What about the next game?' He said, 'don't think about it, only this game!' What can you say to that? It is all about this game.”
Just because he has never managed or played in a Sunderland-Newcastle tussle before does not mean he has never endured the excitement and drama of a match filled with hostility and rivalry.
Poyet said: “When I was nine I went to Argentina in an interchange of football and my father said to me, 'Here, we do not lose against Argentina.' I was nine! Lucky that I did not lose. I needed to go and sleep at my uncles!
“At club level Sol Campbell coming back to White Hart Lane with Arsenal for the first time was a really unique situation when I was at Tottenham. But of course that’s only fans, not cities.
“Here it’s not only the fans, it’s the cities, so I’d go one bigger. I played in the Copa America final too between two countries, Brazil and Uruguay, and there is none bigger than that.
“That was two countries against each other. I was on the pitch and you cannot lose. I don't how to explain it. It is just not acceptable. There is something there when you are playing for your country you can feel it.
“It is not just involving you as a footballer but the family, your friends, they need to go to work the next day. If you don't, the rest will make sure they let them know they are not happy about you.
"There are no health problems, no financial problems, nothing. But it is about Sunderland beating Newcastle and I want them to have that winning feeling on Sunday night.”
There are players in the Sunderland squad who have not been as fortunate to play in a fixture of such importance to an area. He has instructed the likes of Lee Cattermole and John O'Shea to relay how vital it is that their team-mates perform against Newcastle.
“I am looking forward to it. We are very lucky. The players don't realise how lucky they are,” said Poyet. “How many people would pay millions to be on the pitch, playing on Sunday for your team, the one you support, in a derby game?
"We need to make sure we do our job. I hope you are going to see me smiling after the game. That is a good sign. That is the only thing I am looking forward to. To have a nice evening with my family. You try to win every game but if there is one you cannot lose, it is this one.”
His task in preparing his players for the visit of Newcastle did not receive the ideal start this week when they had to deal with the fall-out from the horrible 4-0 defeat at Swansea a week ago.
But he is satisfied with how things have gone and he is relishing such an exciting first home game in charge of the club.
He said: “We had a couple of difficult days. Then slowly they realised what was coming. It was not easy to take. The players were a little down. That's football depending on a character. We are now in a good situation.
“We have to keep training, believing and being organised to do the right things. We need to maintain our concentration better, to make sure there are no individual mistakes and misunderstandings. We have to believe and make sure everyone understands.
“Newcastle are a very strong team going forward because they have all played together for the last eight months with the addition of Loic Remy in the summer.
“They have a had a few problems at the heart of the defence, so we will have to see who plays there.
“That is the only area where they have been suffering. There is only one plan in a derby and that is being stronger and showing more passion. We have to show we can do that.”
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