SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Keane's focus, Leadbitter on Gray
Here is what the Echo was reporting on SAFC 10 years ago today.
KEANE: DON’T LOSE FOCUS:
ROY KEANE has issued a warning to his Sunderland players – ignore the hype!
Keane looks to stretch the Black Cats’ unbeaten run to seven games at Burnley tomorrow but will not contemplate any complacency.
The Black Cats’ recent run has lifted them from the obscurity of the Championship’s basement into mid-table. It has also got people talking about Sunderland again and a win or a draw tomorrow would finally thrust the club genuinely into the battle for play-off places.
But Keane says that’s the last thing his players need to be thinking about, despite dismissing suggestions that the increasing weight of expectation might tell on his squad.
He said: “There’s talk about pressure because we’ve gone six games unbeaten but I don’t see it. I’m not really into all that sort of stuff.
“I’m just into trying to win a football match – that’s all it is.
“Obviously we’ve got high expectations here with the supporters but the players understand that. We are hoping to get up towards the top of the table and win a few games.
“The players have been great in the last few weeks. We’ve knuckled down and we’ve ground out a few decent results.
“In an ideal world we’d have liked to have played a bit better. But we’ve scored some good goals and we’ve managed to get a few wins under our belts, which has been great.
“I’ll happily settle for more of the same this weekend. We’ve done well recently bit it’s important that no-one gets ahead of themselves – I’m certainly not.
“At the end of the day, Burnley is just another football game and like every football game, you simply ignore the distractions and set out to win it.
GRANT: IT’S HANDY ANDY’S OUT
GRANT LEADBITTER says he is relieved that former team-mate Andy Gray is not playing against Sunderland tomorrow.
But he says that another man with former Sunderland connections – ex-assistant boss Steve Cotterill –will be pulling out all the stops to ensure the Black Cats’ downfall tomorrow.
Leadbitter has blossomed under new boss Roy Keane and can expect to be involved tomorrow as Sunderland look to extend their promising unbeaten run to seven games. But he says Burnley boss Cotterill will have an incentive to get an extra bit out of his players this weekend.
He said: “I think it’s a fact of life that people want to do especially well against clubs they’ve been involved with previously. For that reason, I’m quite glad that Andy Gray won’t be playing for Burnley this weekend because I think he would have been really looking to get that goal against us.
“He was a canny lad when he was with us last season, but he had a few niggling injuries during his time here and it just never went right for him.
He’s done really well down there and was one of the top scorers in the Championship this season – he would have been looking forward to the Sunderland game so it’s good for us that we won’t be playing against us.
But Steve Cotterill will be wanting to get one over on Sunderland I’m sure. It never worked out for him at Sunderland either but he’s proven himself a good coach before and after he came here and he’s one who looks at every detail going into games.
“We can’t worry too much about that though – we’re in the middle of a good run at the moment.
“There’s a buzz and a confidence about the place again now and with a bit of luck, we’ll see that at Burnley tomorrow. We know it won’t be an easy day for us away from home, they’ll make it tough but there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t keep the unbeaten run going.”