Sunderland’s Larsson hopes to haunt old boss McLeish against Villa

Seb Larsson
Seb Larsson
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SEB LARSSON hopes he comes back to haunt former boss Alex McLeish this weekend as Sunderland search for an Aston Villa hat-trick.

Larsson spent four years under “Big Eck” at Birmingham City before the duo both parted ways from St Andrew’s in the summer.

While Bosman signing Larsson has been an instant hit at the Stadium of Light after a stunning goal on his Liverpool debut, McLeish has had to win over the Aston Villa fans after joining from the club’s relegated rivals.

Larsson is full of respect for McLeish after the former Rangers boss kept faith with the Swedish midfielder last season, even when it became apparent he would leave Birmingham for nothing when his contract expired.

But Sunderland’s top scorer is desperate for the Black Cats to build on last weekend’s victory at Bolton with a third successive win over Villa on Saturday.

Larsson told the Echo: “It was good working under him (McLeish) at Birmingham, I’ve got nothing bad to say about him.

“We had a good relationship and it worked well, even though it ended in relegation which is never a nice way to finish things.

“Obviously, at times it was strange at Birmingham with the contract situation. But I respect him that he said he just cared about what happened on the pitch. That was important for me.

“We’ve both moved on, but hopefully I can get one over on him this weekend.

“Like everyone else, I was a bit surprised that it actually happened that he moved across Birmingham.

“But he’s definitely got the strength of character and mentality to handle that type of pressure which comes with moving to your local rivals.

“It’s not easy and it adds a bit of pressure to him. Fans will be that little less forgiving in whatever you do and hopefully we can pile on a bit more pressure this weekend.”

Three points at Bolton eased the pressure building on Sunderland and another win on Saturday would equal their tally from the same stage of last season.

But Larsson remains cautious after Sunderland’s previous win this season, against Stoke City, was followed by their worst performance of the campaign at newly-promoted Norwich City.

“We know the pressure’s on to get results now because we’re not where we want to be or where we should be,” said the 26-year-old.

“I’m sure the manager (Steve Bruce) feels that as well.

“But the one thing he told us at half-time last weekend was to let him do the worrying and go out and enjoy ourselves.

“I think we did that against Bolton.

“The big thing is to get back-to-back wins.

“The last time we won, we went down to Norwich and put in a terrible performance – probably the one really bad one of the season.

“We’ve got to produce another good performance and get another three points because you can move up the league very quickly if you do that.”