"Derbies are the games I used to love to play in".
Treading a fine line psychologically is key to derby success according to Gus Poyet as Sunderland’s head coach gears up for his first Wear-Tyne encounter.
Poyet is preparing for his first home game in charge of the Black Cats following his appointment during the recent international break.
His side take on Newcastle United in the first derby of the season at the Stadium of Light on Sunday (KO 1.30pm).
The Uruguayan is no stranger to big games during a long and successful playing career and says derby occasions always add a little extra.
I’m looking forward to seeing the reaction of the players during the game. That will be very important for the future
- Poyet on derby
“One important thing is to have calmness, in a nice way, to be able to play,” he said.
“You have to be tense but to a point. You can’t be over-tense because then you can’t move or pass the ball. Too much tension is not good.
“There has to be that bit extra – it’s a derby. I need to see something that is different from any other game. These are the games the fans want to win the most and these are the games you need to win for yourself and the club.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the reaction of the players during the game. That will be very important for the future.”
Poyet enjoyed a number of tussles with the Magpies as a player as well as in his managerial role at Brighton and was more than familiar with English derbies during spells with Chelsea and Spurs.
Indeed, he always relished such occasions. “These games are the only ones I miss,” he explained.
“The derbies are the games I used to love to play in. You can feel the tension, the fans – that’s the best you can get in football. I am looking forward to Sunday.”
Poyet says he has seen “plenty of intensity” on the training ground during his first full week working with the entire squad following the international break.
And he’s relished the opportunity to get down to brass tacks with all the players at his disposal ahead of this weekend’s game.
“The players come in and want to show a new manager, but in one or two days it is very difficult," he said. "Players like Ki and Ji had only trained once [before Swansea].
“We have a better picture of where and how we can use [players]. You know the players from the outside [at first] but not from the inside, what they think, how they are.”