22nd January, 2014
Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone believes his side have nothing to fear when they face Manchester United in the second leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final tonight.
The Black Cats may have blown their chance to get out of the bottom three on Saturday but their inconsistent home form will be long forgotten as they aim to reach Wembley for the first time in 22 years this week.
Gus Poyet’s side travel to Old Trafford aiming to preserve the only 100 per cent cup record in English football.
They are defending their 2-1 lead from the first leg a fortnight ago when they defied the worst home record in the Barclays Premier League to beat David Moyes’ side.
Poyet is trying to install a ‘nothing-to-lose’ attitude among his players who will have 9,000 supporters following them.
Mannone, linked with a move to the reigning champions last week, says it is the only way they will survive after the Black Cats battled back to a 2-2 draw against Southampton at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
The former Arsenal keeper said: ‘The Premier League is a different stage. Any game you play is a big one, like a final and we just approached it in the wrong way in terms of tactics and mentality because they kept coming at us and we couldn’t relax and play our game.
“Wednesday is another game and a massive one for the club and the fans. We need to focus on the semi-final again as we did in the first leg.
We are not afraid of anything. We are unbeaten in quite a few games. I think we have lost one in 11. We’re not supposed to go there afraid.
“We go there 2-1 up with a slight advantage, but it is a new game and we have to treat it as if it is a new game and the score is 0-0.
“You don’t need any motivation to go to Old Trafford, you just need to belief you can win and if we do that we will perform better.
“We were disappointed on Saturday because each one of us was below par. The gaffer said that to us but I don’t think he needed to because we know in the last few games where our performance has to be and we knew we weren’t at the standard we could be.
“We showed character and stepped it up a gear and you could see that. The ability to get a result when you haven’t played well for a big chunk is important when we are fighting for our lives. The fans were unhappy and rightly so, but we were unhappy as well and in the second half we gave them something to cheer about.”
Meanwhile, United boss David Moyes is determined to give his beleaguered supporters a lift by overhauling Sunderland and reaching the League Cup final, just as striker Wayne Rooney is back in full training and is expected to be included in the squad to face Sunderland
Jose Mourinho told United fans on Sunday their Premier League title challenge was over after his Chelsea side recorded a 3-1 home win over the champions, leaving Moyes’ men in seventh place and 14 points off the pace.
United have little time to dwell on the disappointment of a seventh league defeat of the season with Sunderland heading to Old Trafford tomorrow with a 2-1 advantage from the first leg in the lightly regarded competition.
“We’re going to go out and do everything we can to get through,” former Everton manager Moyes said. “I want to give the supporters something to cheer about. There’s not been an awful lot and I’m fully aware of that but I thought how we played today was not bad. “The players played well but if you are going to defend the way we did then we are going to find it tough.”
Rooney who had been struggling with a groin injury since the end of December, and aggravated the problem after playing against Tottenham on New Year’s Day, may be back in the squad tonight.
The striker was involved in full contact training on Monday – including ball work and tackling – and although he is not thought to be ready for 90 minutes, he is expected to play some part against the Black Cats, who lead 2-1 from the first leg.
“Wayne is really keen to get back into the side and is going full throttle in training,” a Carrington source told Goal.
“The medical guys have given him the all clear to play, so it should hopefully just be a case of getting his fitness up to scratch.”