GUS Poyet expects Manchester United to field their strongest side in tonight’s huge Capital One Cup semi-final, first leg tie.
But the Black Cats boss is still hoping for a “fantastic” night of cup action at the Stadium of Light.
United arrive on Wearside having suffered consecutive defeats – to Swansea City in the FA Cup and Spurs in the Premier League; both 2-1 reverses at Old Trafford.
And Poyet suspects that with United feeling the heat, manager David Moyes will bring a side to Sunderland looking to crush the Black Cats.
“I watched the first half of the Man United v Swansea game at the Stadium of Light on Sunday evening and the second half on the TV at home,” the Sunderland boss revealed.
“They lost because of a number of things happening very quickly around a sending off. But it is interesting – I don’t know if this is a good time to play them or not!
“I am, though, expecting a very strong Man United side. They won’t want to lose two cup games in 48 hours, and they certainly won’t want to lose a third game in a row.
“They are in a difficult situation but, whatever players they have on the pitch, they will give us a hard game.
“When I was playing, I never had an easy game against Manchester United.”
United are currently 13 points off the top of the league, effectively putting them out of the title race and facing a challenge just to secure a Champions League spot.
And after being dumped out of the FA Cup by Swansea at the weekend, their only chances of silverware in David Moyes’ debut season as United manager is either the Champions League or the Capital One Cup - with the domestic trophy comfortably their best hope for success.
Several players are expected to return though, including Wayne Rooney and possibly Robin van Persie.
Poyet, though, will be more concerned about Sunderland perform in the semi-final rather than United.
“I never worry too much about the opposition because there’s nothing we can do about them,” he said.
“I prefer to focus on us – I want us to see us doing things well, making the right decisions and playing the best football we’re capable of.
“It’s a semi-final and on the day, anyone can beat anyone else.
“Man United I’m sure will play their strongest team because they want to win a trophy, so we need to be spot on.
“That’s what we have to concentrate on – going out there for a fantastic semi-final and making sure we’re spot on.”