Bottom of the table Sunderland will be hoping for a repeat of last season when they face Newcastle on Sunday.
On that occasion a then managed Paulo Di Canio guided the Cats to a 3-0 win over their North East rivals and a similar result this weekend would provide hope, not only for the new man in charge Gus Poyet but also for the club’s suffering fans.
Sunderland have yet to win a game this season and currently prop up the table after losing 7 of their 8 games so far, including all four all home.
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Gus Poyet may only be heading into the second game of his Sunderland rein however already the pressure and tension in the North East is growing. That has nothing to do with the Uruguyaun but Sunderland are in dire need of a win and already seven points from safety.
The former Chelea star began his Premier League managerial career with a 4-0 thrashing away to Swansea and he will be hoping for a better performance in his first home game.
Poyet has been working hard since that trip Wales to rebuild the shattered confidence within his side with the initial focus being on team morale.
He took his player’s out for a meal on Thursday as a bonding exercise with Poyet feeling that a team meal was the perfect way to bring the team together ahead of their biggest game of the season.
“It was my decision,” explained Poyet. “I used to do it myself, organising [evenings out] with Dennis Wise and company and because I didn’t see it happening here, I thought it was a good idea.
“The manager goes once. After that, they don’t want him there. I know. I’ve been a player, I didn’t want the manager there. I think it’s important. There are 14 new players here. We need to spend time together, talk about things, whatever it is. Sometimes you know a player better when you know something about his life.
“Maybe someone’s having a problem at home and we don’t know. I haven’t been in the middle of meetings saying, ‘How’s your wife, how’s your family?’ Sometimes in this situation you learn plenty of things about the rest. Slowly, you build up. I think it should be a regular thing, but after this one, it will be up to the players.”
Wes Brown looks set to make a welcome return to the side with the former Manchester United defender set to partner John O’Shea at the back while Lee Cattermole looks set to start in midfield alongside Craig Gardner with Ki-Sung Yueng also tipped to start after being ineligible to play against Swansea City. Jozy Altidore could start up front alongside Steven Fletcher.
Newcastle meanwhile will be full of confidence ahead of the first North-east derby of the new season. The Magpies produced a battling second half performance to earn a point against Liverpool, despite playing the second half with 10 men.
Paul Dummet scored in that game after coming and the youngster could be handed his first ever BPL start as a reward with Davide Santon set to move into centre defence to partner Mike Williamson with Fabricio Coloccini out injured and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa suspended.