Pre-match preview ahead of league outing.
Craig Liddle has called on Sunderland’s under-18s to take their derby performance against Newcastle into tomorrow’s game against Manchester United at the Academy of Light.
The young Black Cats were 6-1 winners on Tyneside last weekend, recovering from an early deficit with six unanswered goals to seal a fine victory.
“The first thing we said after the game on Saturday was – ‘that’s your benchmark now’,” Liddle told safc.com.
“We set the standards and it’s important that they don’t drop. There are still things we can get better at – we’ll be looking to take that type of performance into the game on Saturday.
“We could have been two down [early on] last weekend if we’re being honest with ourselves. We didn’t start the game well, and that’s something we need to improve on.
“But other than the first 10 minutes Newcastle didn’t hurt us at all, which was pleasing.”
The win saw Sunderland move into third place in the Barclays U18 Premier League, six points behind tomorrow’s opponents with a game in hand.
United have won seven of their 10 games this season and boast a league-best goal difference of plus-11, but Liddle is hoping his youngsters’ recent defensive efforts will serve them well tomorrow.
“We’ve worked very hard defensively over the last two weeks on getting the shape right and having the determination not to concede goals,” he said.
“United have got a lot of interest in their forward line. It’s going to be difficult, but we’ll be looking to do more of the same.”
The young Black Cats have certainly been firing at the other end, knocking out an average of almost three goals a game with 25 in nine outings.
Only Spurs and leaders Southampton have found the net more times than Sunderland, who have failed to score only once in the league this season.
“We’ve had goals from all over the pitch,” Liddle added. “We’d like the defenders to contribute a little bit more in terms of getting on the end of set plays and free kicks but the goals have been pretty well spread out, even though Mika [Mandron] has obviously been the top goalscorer.
“It’s pleasing that we are creating the chances – the six goals last weekend was something we’ve threatened to do all season as we’ve missed a lot of chances in games, but at Newcastle we were quite clinical in front of goal.”