Wear - Tyne Derby: Build-up
Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill says that he will strive to improve on the club's poor recent record in the derby.
The Black Cats have beaten the Mags at the Stadium of Light just once, and took just a point from last season's clashes.
It has been a tale of woe for Cats' supporters in recent years, with a 5-1 defeat by the Toon at Sid James' Park two seasons ago the lowlight.
However, speaking to The Sunderland Echo, O'Neill admited it was time to arrest the recent run of results against our nearest and dearest.
'We will try and change things,' said O'Neill.
"And maybe hopefully in 10 years time people will be talking about how many derbies Sunderland have won or how many Newcastle have lost.'
The Ulsterman continued:
"I can`t do anything about the derbies gone, but I can look to do something about the derbies to come.'
In a strange move, Toon boss Alan Pardew has gone on the charm offensive, praising several members of O'Neill's squad.
Speaking to The Sunday Sun, Pardew said of Seb Larsson:
"I think Larsson will play on the right, instead of Adam Johnson. I think he will maybe start Johnson on the bench. Larsson was a player I wanted to bring here. I think he`s a very good footballer, someone who I rate highly. We will make sure we look after him.'
The praise continued, with Steven Fletcher next in line for a dose of Pardew's praises: "Fletcher`s certainly proven his worth. I thought he was a good player at Wolves and maybe the fee has given him added confidence.
"As a player, I was linked with a move and my value went from £10,000 to £200,000. That does give you a boost.'
Jack Colback was in a determined mood when he spoke to The Sunderland Echo, stating "fans would take a draw because that`s how intense it is and a defeat to them is unthinkable.
"But hopefully we can give them that win.'
Toon left-back Davide Santon took an altogether different approach however, admitting that he was 'scared' during his first derby:
'It was a fantastic experience. The fans were crazy and I really enjoyed the game. I remember the managers being crazy, too, and Sunderland having two players sent off.' Santon told Sky Sports News
'But I think it's normal, because the Milan derby was similar. The difference is that here the stadium is a bit smaller, but the fans are more aggressive than in Milan.
'Here, the rivalry is more intense, more crazy. I was even a little bit scared in the first half, but I really enjoyed it.'
Ha'way the lads!
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