Sunderland manager Gus Poyet has revealed that he is not afraid to drop star names and make big decisions as he prepares for Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby.
• Randall: The value of silence
The Black Cats currently sit at the bottom of the Premier League table with just one point, and are the only side in the division still chasing their first win of the season.
And with Newcastle coming to visit this weekend, Poyet, who took over from Paolo Di Canio earlier this month, says he is not scared to upset some his players as he goes in search of victory.
“Sometimes, people say in football that you need to pick your 11 best individuals,” he told the Sunderland Echo. “No -- you need to pick your best team. And sometimes that means you need to leave out one of your best individuals. Now we need our best team.
“We need characters, rather than individuals. We need players who react the right way and who are mentally strong. That is more important than playing your ‘best’ player, or the player that everybody likes.
“In my opinion, if you are to do well then you need everybody to have a clear idea of how you want to play and to understand the system. If two or three don’t do that, it is difficult. And if those two or three are in key positions, then you have a big problem.”
With the Magpies keen to exact revenge for the 3-0 defeat they suffered at the hands of Sunderland in April, Poyet is well aware of the importance of Sunday’s derby.
And having sampled intense rivalries as a player, the former Chelsea and Tottenham midfielder conceded that local derbies are the games he misses most.
"These are the only games I miss," he told Sunderland’s official website. "The Monday nights on a horrible pitch, raining, windy, in January, those games I don’t miss. I can watch them on TV.
"But the derbies are the ones I used to love to play in. You can feel during the week the tension, the fans, that is the best you can get in football, so I’m looking forward to Sunday."