GUS POYET, ever mindful of the potential difficulties that the Valley Parade pitch could cause tomorrow, has made two concessions this week.
First, the Sunderland manager is going to leave his best suit at home, and, second, his players have been under orders in training not to pass backwards.
Poyet’s plan is to make sure the Black Cats are prepared for a playing surface that drew plenty of negative comments during Monday’s victory over Milton Keynes Dons, a match that the Uruguayan tuned in to watch live on Sky.
“They say it is going to rain on Saturday and Sunday,” said Poyet, “so I don’t know what the rain is going to do to the pitch. It is going to be interesting.
“We have all played in the park, or when we were at school, where the ball didn’t roll properly. Some people would still try to play along the floor, whereas others would lift it and head it.
“What you do on the pitch is dictated by the conditions, but it is down to individuals. It is going to be interesting to see.
“I watched the game the other day and nobody died. All the MK Dons players were okay. I’m not going to blame the pitch, I promise you. I hope the ball doesn’t bounce in completely the wrong direction, but can we make the pitch fair? That’s going to be a difficult one.
“I have to pick the team to allow us to do certain things in a certain way. It is not just playing the way we should be playing.”
Asked what special measures he might take to ensure Sunderland adapt to the conditions, Poyet replied: “I am not going to bring my suit, with all respect to Phil Parkinson.
“No, we haven’t trained on a different pitch. But I made up a rule in some of the sessions where there weren’t too many passes backwards or sideways.
“I think you need to avoid a certain part of the pitch.”