Sunderland v Manchester United: Kevin Ball looking to maintain unlikely beaten run

Last caretaker spell saw Ball draw 0-0 with United at Old Trafford

Kevin Ball will send Sunderland into battle with Manchester United on Saturday looking to maintain an unlikely unbeaten run.

The 48-year-old interim head coach took the Black Cats to Old Trafford in April 2006 during his previous spell as caretaker manager and emerged with a creditable 0-0 draw.

However, the experience was soured by the fact that Sunderland, who were all but doomed when Mick McCarthy parted company with the club, were formally relegated that day.

A repeat of that scoreline at the Stadium of Light this time around would represent a major boost to morale on Wearside with the club still looking for a first league win of the current campaign, although Ball knows just how difficult that will be despite the criticism United have had in the wake of defeats by Manchester City and West Brom.

Asked if United boss David Moyes' detractors were unreasonable in expecting instant success, he said: "From Manchester United's point of view, they are probably entitled to do that.

"But they have also got to understand when things change, it takes time to build some sort of momentum, and I have no doubt in time, that will happen there.

"I just look at it as Manchester United. I know what quality of players they have got and know it's going to be a very difficult game.

"What's gone on in previous games, I'll look at, but it doesn't really count because they have got a lot quality about them, they are a good team.

"I am really hoping David Moyes is successful there."

There will be several familiar faces in the United squad from the side which ran out against the Black Cats all those years ago with Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney among those still going strong.

Ball said: "I must admit, Giggs' hair is grey now, isn't it, like mine? It's unbelievable, it's absolutely fantastic.

"Ryan Giggs, you look at him and what he's done and everything about him in terms of his football is absolutely fabulous, and Ferdinand, Rooney - superb.

"What I felt on the night was quite interesting as well. I can't remember who it was when they came out, but they actually said 'Well done' to us on the night for the result.

"I felt a great sense of humility from them as well, which is a fantastic attribute to have.

"It was a great night. Ultimately what happened after the game didn't sour it, but was a reflection."

Six and a half years on, Sunderland find themselves in another difficult situation having taken just a point from their opening six league games and engaged in yet another search for a manager.

However, there were early signs of a recovery in last weekend's 3-1 home defeat by Liverpool, in which the Black Cats fought hard to get back to 2-1 and were pushing for an equaliser when they were hit on the break at the death.

Despite their position in league table - they are currently bottom and four points adrift of 17th-placed West Ham - Ball is confident there are better things to come as long as the players roll up their sleeves and work for it.

He said: "At times, you either go under or you fight harder.

"What is important is that they keep their focus on that, they keep their focus on working hard in training, understanding there is an end aim, which is to do as well as they can possibly do.

"We need to give them focus, keep things in perspective and keep things real."

Ball has no fresh injury concerns with striker Steven Fletcher back in training after dislocating his shoulder, although he will not be available until after the break for international matches, while fellow frontman Fabio Borini, who was ineligible last week, will return to the squad.

PA

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Lewis Hamtilon and pole-sitter Nico Rosberg
SportShould F1's most aggressive driver curb his instincts in title decider?
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin