West Ham v Sunderland
Today: Boleyn Ground, 5.30pm
TV: Live on Sky Sports 1
Dick Advocaat has warned his Sunderland players not to cross him if they want him to keep the smile on his face.
The 67-year-old Dutchman will send out his Black Cats team for the first time at West Ham today having spent the last four days trying to put his stamp on it following his appointment as Gus Poyet’s replacement.
He has been happy with the response he has had on the training pitch so far and remains confident he can steer the club out of a second successive relegation battle.
However, he had a warning for his players as he prepared for the first fixture of a crucial nine-game mini-season.
Advocaat said: “I always say it is quite simple: if they do what I want on the pitch and in training, I am a really nice man; but if not, I’m not a nice man, and it’s good when they know that.
“So far, I have been very friendly to them.”
The Black Cats head for Upton Park sitting just a point above the drop zone as a result of their 4-0 home defeat by Aston Villa — which proved fatal for Poyet — and Burnley’s stunning 1-0 victory over Manchester City last weekend.
However, despite spending much of his managerial career fighting for trophies and working on the international stage, Advocaat is not fazed by the task ahead of him.
He said: “Everything you do is a challenge and this is a big challenge because this is a big club. We still have everything in our own hands.”
West Ham defender Aaron Cresswell expects a tough game today.
“What was already set to be a tough but exciting game has that bit more to it now Sunderland have brought a new manager in,” he said.
“I don’t know too much about Dick Advocaat but he’s certainly got a lot of experience and we’re expecting a difficult match.
“Every game in the Premier League is a challenge and we will have to rise to it.
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