Poyet hopes derby day can spark Sunderland
Sunderland boss Gus Poyet hopes the passion of Sunday's derby against bitter rivals Newcastle can help kickstart his team's flagging Premier League campaign.
The stakes are high for Sunderland and Poyet, the man who replaced Paolo di Canio, as they attempt to breathe life into a season that has produced only one point from eight matches and left them bottom of the table.
Newcastle, meanwhile, are eager to exact revenge for the 3-0 home defeat they suffered against Sunderland earlier this year.
"I don't miss playing games apart from the big ones -- and this one is massive," Poyet said.
"It's a perfect game to win. If we need to win one game here, it's this one."
Whether all the players inherited by Poyet fully understand what this match means in the north-east corner of England is uncertain.
Di Canio signed 14 new players in pre-season, most of them from abroad, and the tension of the derby will be a new experience for many of them.
"We will see the passion of the players and, if it's not there, we do have a problem," said Poyet, who may recall former Manchester United defender Wes Brown after a 21-month absence with a knee injury.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew will have to make at least one change.
Fabricio Coloccini is still troubled by a groin strain, while either Steven Taylor or Paul Dummett will come in for suspended French defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
Newcastle may be 10th in the table but Pardew is aware Poyet has a formidable record against them as both player and manager.
Poyet scored so many goals in matches against Newcastle he was called the "scourge" of the club by former Magpies manager Bobby Robson.
And when Poyet was in charge at Brighton, they inflicted two cup defeats on Newcastle teams managed by Pardew.
"My whole career in English football has been linked with Newcastle," Poyet said.
"I have a good reputation against them and I hope that continues on Sunday. But this match will not be won by myself or Alan Pardew. It will be won by the players on the pitch."
Pardew is not worried by those cup setbacks, however, pointing out Newcastle fielded weakened teams on both occasions.
"This will be a very different team," he said. "We didn't really have the resources when those games came around. We have a much stronger team going into this particular game and I would like to think that we will get a positive result.
"Sunderland have one point, so there is a lot of pressure on them but they have good players and it is always difficult at the Stadium of Light," Pardew added.
"I have seen two games there this year and I thought they did okay.
"It is Gus Poyet's first home game as the manager of Sunderland, so there will be an extra special atmosphere. We need to be prepared for that and hopefully we will.
"I think we've got a very attacking side and we are good to watch when we are in full flow and hopefully we can bring that to the surface on Sunday."