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MANAGER: Make it a proper cup tie

4 January 2014

Graham Kavanagh ahead of the Sunderland game

United manager Graham Kavanagh spoke to us ahead of the Sunday trip to the Stadium of Light.

"It will be a great occasion,” he said. “We're obviously away from home at a big club like Sunderland and it gives our players and fans the chance to go to a stadium the majority haven't been to before. It’s very exciting for everybody. 

"They're the bigger club and we're the underdogs. We've got to make it as difficult as we possibly can by starting well and making it a high tempo game. We want to keep their fans quiet for as long as we can, because they will expect them to turn us over, and then hopefully we’ll be able to stamp our own quality on it.”

“If we’re going to give ourselves a real chance then we have to be solid,” he told us. “We’ll need to be aggressive, without being gung ho, and we will certainly have to try and make it a scrap in the early stages. We’ll have to press and close down and make sure we work extremely hard. If we do all that we should then start to cause them a few problems as well.

“I’m under no illusions that this will be difficult. They have a huge amount of quality in their side and, if there is one or two who haven’t played for a while, I’m sure they will want to stake a claim. I’ve met Gus [Poyet] a number of times and one thing you can say is that his teams are very good teams to watch.

“Given time I know that Sunderland will be the same because he demands a lot from his players. We are expecting him to make changes, because of the game against Manchester United on Tuesday, but he will want his side to perform and to win it. 

“It’s up to us to make it a proper cup tie whatever happens with team selection. They’re all good players and we’re going to have to be at our best to give ourselves anywhere near a chance of progressing further. It’s a case of making sure they are respected but also know that they’re not going to be feared.”

“I think both teams are similar in that they’re a work in progress,” he agreed. “He likes to play in a way that I would like us to play, most definitely, but it takes time and a lot of work to get there. We’ll try to play our football but the important thing will be for us to make life uncomfortable for them as much as we possibly can.”

"I'm sure our keeper will have to play well but it's a game that our players are all up for and looking forward to,” he said. “It was important for us to get some of the loans extended because it gives us more options. 

“Having Max [Ehmer] is a huge boost and it means we can assess how we are going to do things once we get through the Saturday session. I spoke to Harry [Redknapp] on Tuesday and he has been fantastic with us. 

“QPR play Everton today and if they are in a position, come Sunday, where they have drawn or won, and they might use Max going forward, then he will give me a call and ask me to pull him out of our squad. I’ve no problem at all with that because he is their player. Obviously I’m hoping that doesn’t happen and we’ve signed him now with a view to him playing for us at Sunderland. We’ll only know that will definitely be the case later today.”

“Sean [O’Hanlon] hasn’t trained with us so far this week but he does feel that it’s improving,” he said. “We’re hopeful with the fact that it’s Sunderland, and it’s such a big game, that he’ll be able to be involved. It’s important that he can give his maximum if he does play. He’ll be effective for us if he can but, if he can’t, then we’ll have to look at other options.”

"Ben [Amos] won't be allowed to play in the FA Cup but we are still working on getting him back,” he revealed. “That gives Greg [Fleming] a huge opportunity on Sunday and he's been a real credit to himself. He was probably unfortunate, because he performed well in both FA Cup games, but he was then left out of the team because Ben was here. He's got on with his work without any fuss and I hope for his sake he does well on Sunday because he really does deserve it.”

On what the players can expect, he said: "It will be an intimidating atmosphere. The lads will have to work as a team and stick together. 

“We know we'll have the support of our fans, I think there's close to 6,000 of them making the trip, which is fantastic, but we need to give them something to shout about. We want to make them proud of the way we play and if we can cause Sunderland some problems I'm sure they'll all enjoy it. Anything can happen in the FA Cup and if we're one of the teams to cause an upset it will be a great day.

"We've got a number of connections to Sunderland and the north east. It will be strange to be stood in the technical area opposite Gus Poyet but it's something which is very exciting. We've got a number of Sunderland fans who will love walking out onto the pitch and we've also got a number of Geordies who will be looking to turn Sunderland over. Whoever we support or follow the main thing is that we’ll all be blue on Sunday and we’ll do as well as we can for Carlisle United.” 

“A good result would make a huge difference to our finances,” he concluded. “The prize is money is over £67,000 for this round and that would allow us to do one or two things in the transfer market, maybe pay one or two off and do a few things around the ground. Obviously that’s great to talk about but we have the small matter of getting the result first. That won’t be easy but it’s what we’re going there to do.”

United Player subscribers can see a series of video interviews with Graham Kavanagh now. Click HERE to go to the Player platform. Follow the same link for more information on United Player, and to subscribe.

Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.

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