LEE Cattermole insists derby records are meaningless for Sunderland this weekend, compared to the desperate need for Premier League points.
Sunderland are aiming for five in a row against Newcastle United in Sunday’s Wear-Tyne derby – a tally which would match the record winning run in the fixture set by the Magpies back in 2006.
We need to get better, it’s as simple as that.Lee Cattermole
However, a victory would arguably mean more to Sunderland in the relegation dogfight, than any bragging rights, with Dick Advocaat’s side lying just a point above the bottom three.
Sunderland could even find themselves nestled in the drop zone by the time they kick-off against Newcastle, with fellow strugglers Burnley hosting Spurs earlier in the afternoon.
Midfielder Cattermole, in contention again after completing a two-match suspension, says boosting Sunderland’s survival hopes this weekend is the overwhelming priority in a third successive annual battle against the drop.
Cattermole told the Gazette: “I think the derby record is completely irrelevant.
“For us, we’re looking at getting three points on the board.
“Yes, it’s against Newcastle which makes it even bigger, but we need to get some points and secure our place in the Premier League.
“We were in it last year, we’re in it this year and we need to find something to get out of it.
“That’s what we’re looking to do on Sunday. We’ll know everyone else’s results and then we’ve got to get the right result ourselves.
“We need to get better, it’s as simple as that.
“We just haven’t been good enough throughout the season and that’s why we’re lower down the league.
“Yes, we’ve got a new manager now, but we need to get some results as a group of players. That’s our jobs.”
Sunderland have spent just a week in the drop zone this season – at the end of October before their victory at Crystal Palace moved them clear of danger.
Yet the Black Cats have never been able to take a decisive step away from danger, with a series of awful performances over recent weeks seeing Gus Poyet pay the price and Advocaat brought in on a short-term deal.
But if Sunderland can mark Advocaat’s Stadium of Light bow with only a fifth league win of the campaign, Cattermole believes it would provide the foundation for a healthier finish.
Cattermole said: “We’ve had 15 draws and it’s funny because sometimes you’d almost take a point in the Premier League.
“You go home and think it’s okay because we drew.
“We’ve never really had that panic where we’ve got to the stage of losing four or five games on the spin.
“There’s been the odd bad performance – Southampton, Hull, QPR and Villa. They were really bad results.
“That’s where the worry comes into it.
“We need to turn a few of these draws into wins and then it’ll look a bit better.
“It’s a massive game and if we can win on Sunday, it’ll just set us up for the rest of the season.
“It would get the fans right on side and we can finish the season strongly. That’s got to be our aim.”
The concern for Sunderland is that home wins have been hard to come by - only two all season and a paltry nine in more than two years at the Stadium of Light.
“I don’t think we can put our finger on what it is at home,” added Cattermole.
“Maybe we’ve been a bit negative sometimes.
“But we’ll be on the front foot on Sunday and hopefully we can get the first goal.
“We need to pick some points up.”