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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage