Sunderland set to be more direct on ‘dodgy’ Bradford City pitch

DIFFICULT SURFACE ... .Bradford manager Phil Parkinson
DIFFICULT SURFACE ... .Bradford manager Phil Parkinson

SUNDERLAND will adopt a more direct approach in tomorrow’s FA Cup clash at Bradford City – but Gus Poyet insists it is only a one-off.

Poyet has built his managerial reputation on a passing philosophy, yet will opt for a fresh perspective in the fifth round of the cup due to the notoriously ropey nature of the Valley Parade pitch.

Bradford boss Phil Parkinson himself branded the atrocious surface as “terrible” a fortnight ago, with the Bantams expecting to use the proceeds of their cup run to improve their pitch. But Poyet knows Sunderland cannot ignore the conditions, and says both his team selection and tactics will be governed by the terrain.

“This is a unique game,” said Poyet. “We haven’t played a game like this before in my time here and we are not going to play another, because of the pitch.

“I don’t want to talk too much about the pitch, apart from to say that we need to adapt, we need to concentrate, we need to be ready for the unexpected bounce and we have to play the game to the best of our ability in those circumstances.

“And then be better than Bradford and win the game!

“It’s going to be a challenge.

“I have to pick the right players for this game – we need players who can play in a certain way.

“It’s going to be something different to what you have seen before.

“You cannot control the ball as much as you want, so there are going to be plenty of clearances which are going to go forward quicker. It’s going to be demanding, but a football game.

“But we’ve all played on a bad pitch, come on.”

Poyet expects a classic cup tie against the League One Bantams, the shock conquerors of the Uruguayan’s former club Chelsea in the last round.

A hostile atmosphere awaits Sunderland with a 25,000 sell-out at Valley Parade and Poyet says style goes out of the window when faced with such a tie.

“It’s a great opportunity for the players to show character and what is needed,” added.

“It’s totally unpredictable.

“People can say that because Bradford have played on that pitch more, they can adapt better, so they become favourites.

“Or you can say, we cannot repeat what we did on Tuesday and go there with a different mentality.

“We need to find a way to win somehow. I don’t care how.

“It’s how the game finishes, not how we play the game.”