UP-BEAT Sunderland manager Peter Reid faces his former club Manchester City for the first time in the Premiership at Maine Road tonight and admitted: "I fear a back-lash."

The Blues are licking their wounds after a 4-0 mauling at Charlton and will be looking to bounce back against the team which scraped a 1-0 home win over Arsenal.

Reid - who well remembers Sunderland's 4-0 baptism of fire at in the curtain-raser at Chelsea last season - said: "I'm sure their manager Joe Royle will put it down as a bad day at the office - they are not as bad as a 4-0 scoreline would suggest.

"They will be at us and they will be desperate for a result - Maine Road is a very difficult place to go to.

"After we lost at Chelsea last season we beat Watford in our next home game the following week. Manchester City will be trying to do the same and they will certainly be after our scalps."

He stressed: "I was manager there and I know what I am talking about - we will have it all to do."

"But we are just as determined to get three points and while it will be difficult there is a good playing surface at Maine Road and we will be able to get the ball down and play."

Reid was into his third season as manager at Manchester City when he was sacked by the chairman, the late Peter Swales, after some behind-the-scenes bust-ups.

Reid had guided City to fifth place in the old First Division two years in succession and they were in ninth place in the table when he was shown the door.

He admits, however, that it did not come as a complete surprise.

"Obviously when you are a professional and you get the sack you are disappointed.

"But I had inklings in the summer that things weren't right - there were transfer deals I wanted to do and I couldn't do them and there were a few heated discussions.

"But I enjoyed my time at Manchester City - they are a big, big club - and I was really pleased when they got promotion last season."

Reid well remembers the final game of the 1990-91 season when Sunderland lost at Maine Road and were relegated to the old Second Division.

"It was unbelievable. Sunderland had 15,000 supporters there and I'd never seen anything like that at Maine Road before," said reid.

"I also remember playting for Bolton Wanderers in front of 50,000 fans at Roker Park - it was frightening.

"Those are two memories about Sunderland which stick out in my mind."

But Reid has been equally impressed with the level of support his team receives at the Stadium of Light, where the capacity has been increased to 48,500.

He said: "Against Arsenal we made four or five tackles in the middle of the park and the place just exploded.

"I wanted to shout instructions to some of my players but I just couldn't make myself heard above the noise - it was incredible."

Sunderland will again have a big following at Maine Road - all tickets for visiting fans have long since been snapped up by season ticket holders without going on general sale - and he wants to put on a performance for them.

He said: "I know what it's going to be like and we will have to play really well to get a result.

"But psychologically the victory over Arsenal has given everyone at the club a boost. The way we went about it and the steely determination shown by the team collectively was fantastic."

City boss Joe Royle said: "Facing Sunderland will be a massive occasion for this club after the trials of the past few seasons.

"With Peter Reid coming back and Niall Quinn, the night has plenty of nice little sub-plots.

''But it's a big game, they've had an ideal start beating Arsenal, one of the title favourites and we've had a poor start, so we have got to make up for a bit of lost time.

''Sunderland will be a hard one. They came up last season without any real household names, one or two since have made themselves pretty well known, but they are a typically Reidy side."

Sunderland are likely to make at least one change to the side which started against Arsenal.

Scottish international Don Hutchinson, who was suspended for the first game, is likely to come into the midfield for the injured French schemer Eric Roy and there is still a big doubts about goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen.

The big Dane has had a scan on the knee injury which forced his half-time substitution against Arsenal, and free transfer acquisition Jurgen Macho, who proved an excellent second half replacement, stands by to continue.

There is also a slight doubt about Republic of Ireland striker Niall Quinn, who is having treatment for an ankle knock, but the match-winner against Arsenal is determined to play against his former club.

Sunderland (from): Sorensen, Macho, Makin, Gray, Butler, Varga, Bould, Roy, Hutchison, Thirlwell, Holloway, Kilbane, Quinn, Phillips, Wiulliams, Dichio, Summerbee, Nunez, Reddy