LONDON (Reuters) - Newcastle United interim head coach John Carver is ready to crack the whip to ensure his team do not suffer an unimaginable fifth consecutive defeat in the Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland on Sunday.
One of English football’s grand fixtures has much riding on its outcome, with Sunderland’s new manager Dick Advocaat, chucked into a relegation fight, hoping to emulate predecessors Paolo Di Canio and Gus Poyet by beating Newcastle in just his second game in charge.
Those rip-roaring victories helped Sunderland to safety in the previous two seasons and told of a team that wanted to win more.
Carver knows that only too well. He is taking his team to the Stadium of Light for the first time in charge but was also Alan Pardew’s assistant as the Black Cats ran up their record four derby victories in a row.
“There are one or two lads in that dressing room who need a good game and to impose themselves on the derby, because they’ve not done in the past,” Carver told a news conference on Friday.
”In the last four games, Sunderland have outworked us and that’s not a good stat to have. It’s a damning statistic, and I’ll be making sure that doesn’t happen again.
“I’ll be using a whip if necessary to make sure we don’t get out-worked.”
Carver, who revealed that Newcastle full back Massadio Haidara will not play again this season after undergoing knee surgery, needs a win to help his cause of becoming the permanent manager at St James’ Park.
Yet he will not be facing the same sort of pressure as his Dutch counterpart Advocaat, who took over a precarious position from Poyet last month.
The 67-year-old Dutchman, who has never been in charge of a relegated team in his 35-year managerial career, has to arrest an eight-game winless streak for Sunderland who are 17th in the table, just one point above the drop zone.
For such a crucial game, Advocaat is happy that Lee Cattermole, the scrapper he describes as “our controller”, will be back after a two-game suspension.
But former England defender Wes Brown is facing up to a month out with an injured knee.
“It’s difficult to say how long it will take, but it will be at least three weeks,” Advocaat said.
Writing by Ian Chadband; Editing by Ed Osmond