DEADLINE day signing Liam Bridcutt says debuts “don’t get any better” after marking his Sunderland bow with derby delight.
Bridcutt was handed a baptism of fire in Saturday’s Tyne-Wear derby after just one training session with his new team-mates following a £2.5million switch from Brighton.
But Sunderland boss Gus Poyet’s faith was justified after being reunited with Bridcutt at the Stadium of Light, with the midfielder producing an assured display in the 3-0 triumph over the Magpies.
The 24-year-old admits he was surprised to be thrown straight into the starting XI, but relished his Premier League bow as Sunderland registered three successive wins over Newcastle United for the first time in 91 years.
Bridcutt told the Echo: “If someone tells you you’re going to win 3-0 on your debut against Newcastle, you’ll take that!
“I was straight in at the deep end really.
“Gus has brought me in here to have a great opportunity to play in the Premier League and it doesn’t get any better than that - making your debut in a derby and winning 3-0.
“I got told I was playing on Saturday morning after we’d had our pre-match meal and meetings. We knew the team then.
“It was a bit of a shock, but it was a good surprise for me really.”
Bridcutt’s patience was tested during the January transfer window after Sunderland saw an initial £2million rejected and the former Chelsea trainee’s transfer request was turned down by Brighton.
But after a month of negotiations, Poyet finally snared the player who he claimed was good enough to represent Real Madrid during his stint as Seagulls boss.
“It was one of the hardest things that I’ve had to go through in my career,” said Bridcutt.
“When you’re given an opportunity to come to the Premier League and to a great club like Sunderland, with a manager like Gus, you’re not going to turn it down.
“It took a while, but thankfully Brighton have given me a great opportunity to come here and show what I can do.
“It went on for a month and was only done in the last two days of the window. It was difficult. At one stage, I didn’t think it would happen.
“But I’m glad it did and I can enjoy playing in the Premier League now.”
Bridcutt was part of an utterly dominant display from Sunderland, who controlled proceedings after scoring twice within four minutes midway through the first half.
And once Jack Colback made it 3-0 with 10 minutes to go, the Black Cats coasted to a repeat of last April’s scoreline on Tyneside.
Bridcutt added: “Goals change games and once we got those two goals, I thought we looked solid defensively. We looked really, really strong.
“We got a clean sheet and that was a massive positive for us.
“We dominated the second half, particularly towards the end of the game. We could have had a few more opportunities to score.
“Once we got that third goal, it was put to bed really, it killed the game.
“We probably didn’t play the kind of football that we would like to, but when it’s a local derby, it’s always hard because of the atmosphere and the emotions involved in it.
“But we couldn’t have got a better result after a great performance from the boys.”