Why Accrington Stanley boss John Coleman doesn't have an 'inferiority complex' ahead of Sunderland visit
Accrington Stanley manager John Coleman refuses to believe its David vs Goliath when Sunderland visit the Wham Stadium in front of a record crowd on Saturday.
The two sides meet in a competitive fixture for the first time since the 19th century and much of the pre-match talk has focused on the pair's contrasting journeys over the last few years.
Just as Sunderland tasted relegation from the Premier League in 2017, Accrington were at a standstill in League Two, recording a 13th place finish.
Fast forward one-year and it's a level playing field.
But while many opposition managers have jumped on the Black Cats' wage bill as a way to call an unfair advantage, Coleman, however, has taken the opposite approach.
“It’s nice to play Sunderland just as it was nice when we played Bradford City at Valley Parade in front of 15,000,” Coleman told the Accrington Stanley club website.
“We want to win the game, we have no inferiority complex. It doesn’t matter about the size of the club or the wage bill, it’s 11v11 on the day.
“Our lads will stick their chests out and go onto the pitch believing they are the best in the world.
“There was a lot of noise about this fixture before it even happened, about 10 games before the end of last season, everyone talking about ‘little Accy’ against ‘huge Sunderland’ but I have been trying to get away from the tag of ‘little Accy’ for ages."
The visit of Jack Ross' men will attract a record crowd, with over 5,000 fans set to pack through the turnstiles.
Just under 2,600 Sunderland supporters are expected to make the trip tomorrow, outnumbered by only 200 home spectators.
“It’s going to create attention," added Coleman
"With the record crowd, it will be a cracking atmosphere and I am sure the Sunderland fans will enjoy the Wham Stadium experience with all that goes on pre and post-match.
"I think it’s a unique experience and it’s the best value football around the UK."
Meanwhile, although Accrington are set to reap the benefits of welcoming a club languished in top-flight history, Coleman admitted he is sad to see Sunderland in the third-tier.
He said: “I didn’t want Sunderland to get relegated.
"I like to see the ‘big’ teams play at the highest level and I do remember watching Sunderland win the 1973 FA Cup final, although I was a closet Leeds fan so I was crying at the time!
“I don’t like seeing big teams have a hard time, even though I know not all the bigger teams can be in the Premier League but we will be doing our utmost to beat them on Saturday.”