Sunderland are happier away than they are on Wearside admits defender

Clean sheet: Wes Brown helped keep a clean sheet in the goalless draw with Crystal Palace last Saturday

Clean sheet: Wes Brown helped keep a clean sheet in the goalless draw with Crystal Palace last Saturday

First published in Sport
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The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Football/Golf Writer

IT has been the away days rather than home comforts keeping Sunderland’s survival fight alive and Wes Brown senses there is a difference in the way the team play outside the Stadium of Light.

The Black Cats head to Carrow Road this Saturday looking for the victory which could take them level on points with the two sides sitting just outside the relegation zone.

And the run of results over the last few months suggests Sunderland are more likely to get a result on their travels than they actually are if they were playing in front of a 40,000-strong home crowd.

Despite losing the last Premier League trip to Arsenal, Gustavo Poyet’s side had gone unbeaten in their six previous away games.

Such a run would have seen them climb out of the bottom three had they not struggled to improve on a run of just one win from their last eight Premier League home matches, including last weekend’s 0-0 draw with fellow strugglers Crystal Palace.

Sunderland’s decent away run has included wins at Newcastle, Fulham and Everton and the aim is to follow those up with another at Norwich City – and there is a confidence from within the dressing room that they can deliver.

Brown said: “I'm not absolutely sure why we seem to play better away from home but we have been. We have managed to score goals away and it has been totally different at home.

“Maybe some of the pressure is off, I don't know away from home. Maybe the home fans that we face are getting in to their team and we are just playing, we can concentrate on our own game.

“Hopefully we can take that in to the game at Norwich as well because they are not clear of the bottom three either. The fans are great away from home for us and they do help us.”

Norwich’s fans have hardly enjoyed this season, with Chris Hughton’s side sitting just four points above third from bottom Sunderland.

If Poyet can get his players to start positively then the Canaries’ support could soon turn if things are not going their way. Sunderland will be aware of that, although Norwich have performed better at Carrow Road than away in recent months.

Norwich will head in to the game without a defeat in their last six games on Norfolk turf, but a typically strong following from Wearside could silence the crowd and the men in yellow shirts if another strong away display can be achieved.

Brown said: “I remember the Fulham game, when all of the fans travelled down, and they were brilliant. Believe me it helps to know there is such a strong crowd behind us.

“We just need to start getting points on the board for them now. We are going to keep on trying, just as hard as the fans are to get us going because they stuck with us again against Crystal Palace.

“We are trying to play the best football we can. The fans have been great for us this season so we have to start winning for them. We tried our best and I hope they saw that. We just need to get points.”

Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole is hoping to play a big part in the relegation run-in after being left out of the team to face Palace.

Cattermole, who is competing with January buy Liam Bridcutt, was on the verge of a Stoke City move on deadline day only for Poyet to block the move at the last minute.

Now the 25-year-old said: “Obviously there was an interest there at the time. It had been talked about for several weeks, though I’d heard nothing.

“It all felt a bit rushed to me and I had a good chat to the manager – he told me he didn’t want me to go and I told him I didn’t want to go.

“Then it was only going to be a case of whether those higher up wanted it to happen. It was out of our hands if the chairman (Ellis Short) decided he wanted the move to happen. The manager had the backing of the chairman to keep me at Sunderland.

“Now I just want to concentrate on a massive seven, seven and a half weeks for the club, concentrate on keeping us up so we can start a fresh next season and it right.”

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