• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Final will be special for Poyet

SCOTS were at the heart of Sunderland's last cup success and could be so again tomorrow. Ian Porterfield's goal was the difference between the sides when Leeds United were beaten at Wembley in 1973, while Bobby Kerr captained the side, and Dick Malone and Billy Hughes also made the Sunderland starting line-up.

Almost 41 years and two subsequent cup final defeats later, the team from Wearside are back at the national stadium to face Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final. Sunderland will be underdogs to win the League Cup for the first time in their history but there is a determination among manager Gus Poyet and his players to make sure they do not let the moment pass them by.

With Liam Bridcutt cup-tied, there will be just two Scots with a chance of being involved in tomorrow's final but both could be influential. Phil Bardlsey, ostracised under previous manager Paolo di Canio, has been a player revitalised in recent months, his form earning him a recall to the Scotland squad to face Poland on Wednesday. The former Rangers' loanee scored in the semi-final victory over Manchester United, and also got the winner when City were beaten in the league earlier this season.

He could be joined in the team by Steven Fletcher who has been declared fit after recovering from an Achilles injury that has kept him on the sidelines for the past month, with Poyet waiting until the last minute before deciding whether to start the striker or not.

Selection headaches aside, the Uruguayan is relishing the enormity of the occasion. Sunderland are still in a perilous position towards the foot of the Barclays Premier League but Poyet wants his players to put all that aside to savour the moment.

"It's going to be special, firstly because I was not expecting this in my first season here, and secondly because everything was very, very dark and sad when we got here," he said. "Now we are 90 minutes away - or 120 - from being the happiest people in England.

"To be there, you need to have done something previously, and I think we deserve to be there for what we have done in the cup. Forget about the rest, in the cup especially, we have beaten top teams to have a chance to be in the final."

Sunderland had collected just a single point from their opening seven league games when Poyet arrived to succeed Di Canio, with cup success the furthest thing from his mind. "If in my press conference you had asked me about the cup, I would have said, 'Oh come on, stop it, I'm not talking about the cup. There is only one thing to talk about and that is the Barclays Premier League'.

"But now we are here and now it's the opposite. Now if you asked every manager in England if they would like to be where we are, they would say to you, 'Yes' because you have got a chance to win something. We need to make sure that we do everything possible to take this opportunity. That's the only thing I can ask of my players, everything possible. I want to have a feeling on Sunday morning that everything was done to the best of our ability."

City were on the wrong end of an upset last season when they lost in the FA Cup final to Wigan Athletic in what turned out to be Roberto Mancini's last game in charge. His successor, Manuel Pellegrini, hoped the memories of that day would provide further motivation for his players.

"I don't like to talk with them about what happened last year but I am sure for every player it is a lesson," he said. "It is very beautiful to play for a title at Wembley and very awful to lose it. For all of them it is not revenge - it is another team, another year, another situation - but all will be motivated to win."

Contextual targeting label: 
Football

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

216336