Graham Kavanagh on Sunderland
United manager Graham Kavanagh gave us his reaction to the FA Cup third round draw which takes him back to the Stadium of Light at the beginning of next year.
“It’s a fantastic draw for us,” he said. “It’s a really exciting cup tie and it’s one which will whet everyone’s appetite.
“We’ll be facing a Premier League side at a fantastic stadium and that’s something for everybody connected with the club to look forward to.”
“It’s a big game on a number of levels for the club,” he confirmed. “There’s the excitement of getting to the third round anyway, and hopefully there’ll be a little bit of a financial windfall for us which will help us into the second half of the season.
“It’s also a competition we want to keep going in so we won’t be over there to make up the numbers. We will compete as well as we can and look to get a positive result.
“On a personal level it’s great for me. I still live over that way and Sunderland is a club I have close to my heart. I still look out for their results and a lot of my friends are Mackems. I got a whole load of text messages within minutes of the draw coming through so there’s definitely a lot of interest.
“I know we took a lot of fans when we played at Roker Park in the mid 90’s and I’m sure that will be the same again. It’ll be a new experience for most of our supporters and they’ll be able to enjoy the atmosphere you get at the Stadium of Light.”
“It’s a good reward for everyone because we are going through a period of change,” he continued. “We did well to come through possibly the most difficult tie we could have had at that stage, last Saturday, and that was down to the way we played with energy and quality. It was a joy to be part of a win like that and, like I say, we’ve got a little bit back off it with the away draw at Sunderland.”
“It will be a proud moment when I’m stood in the dug out and waiting for kick off,” he agreed. “It’s a wonderful venue and the fans were unbelievable with me when I was there. I didn’t play as regularly as I would have liked, because I picked up an injury about six months into it, but they were top drawer whenever I pulled the shirt on.
“I think there’ll be a lot of proud people amongst my family and friends because they know it’s a club I have a huge amount of respect for. Having said all of that, I’m going there to try to win. It’s not just about enjoying the experience, it’s about trying to do our job and get our club through to the next round.
“The chances of us winning are probably slim but it’s about what we do on the day. It’s the FA Cup and it throws up all kinds of surprises every year. There’s no reason why we can’t be one of them. I think our players will relish in the environment and we have a number of Sunderland and Newcastle fans in the dressing room who will be looking forward to it for their own reasons.
“We’ve got a group where all of them will desperate to play. That should give us added momentum over the next few weeks because the players in the side will want to stay there. I keep telling the lads that the next game is the most important game and they know that if they don’t perform they’ll be left out of the team. That’s even more the case now that we’ve added to the squad because people are genuinely looking over their shoulders. The quality and intensity seems to have gone up a notch and hopefully that will continue to be the case.”
“Games like this are a chance to put the club on the map,” he said. “If you go there and get a win then people up and down the length of the country talk about it. All I ask is that people get behind us and support what we’re trying to do. If this game is the one which sparks more interest then we will certainly try and put on a performance which makes us all feel very proud.”