Dick Advocaat will look to follow in the footsteps of his two Sunderland predecessors and earn a first victory in charge of the club against Newcastle United in the Tyne-Wear derby.
Both Gus Poyet and Paolo Di Canio lost their first games in charge of Sunderland – like Advocaat – but went on to claim a maiden win in their second match against Newcastle.
Now the Dutchman, who replaced Poyet until the end of the season last month, has the chance to repeat that feat as John Carver’s side travel to the Stadium of Light on Sunday.
Advocaat’s arrival failed to have an immediate impact before the international break as they were beaten 1-0 by West Ham, but he is hopeful they will be primed and ready to go.
“It is a new derby for me but I know that for everyone here it is a very important game,” he said. “This is a special one but for us every game at the moment is very important.
“The most important thing is what we do because Newcastle United have some very good individuals, so straight from the beginning we want to show them what we want.
“We want to be sharp in the duels and if we get the ball we have enough good players in the team to do something.
“We still have to improve a lot of things but the commitment of the players was the important thing for me, and that’s really what we need on Sunday because if we give that commitment the fans will get behind us.”
Sunderland are unbeaten in their last six derbies and have won the previous four – only conceding one goal in the process – leaving Carver keen to upset the odds and finally give the Newcastle fans something to cheer.
“We know our record recently is not very good,” the Newcastle boss said. “We have to break that situation. I think we have enough in that dressing room to do that.
“In the last four games Sunderland have out-worked us and that’s not a good stat to have.
“I’ll be making sure that doesn’t happen again and I’ll be using a whip to make sure we don’t get out worked.
“We all know it is a big moment in the North East so it’s something I am looking forward to.”
Fabricio Coloccini and Papiss Cisse are suspended for Newcastle, though Carver welcomes Mehdi Abeid back from a thigh injury.
Sunderland will be without experienced defender Wes Brown due to the knee injury that saw him limp out of the West Ham defeat, but Lee Cattermole is back from suspension to add steel to Advocaat’s midfield and the Dutchman has confirmed the former Middlesbrough man will start.
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