Simon Grayson has warned Derby County to expect a ‘very different animal’ when they travel to Sunderland for a Friday night showdown.
The two clubs meet to kick-off the new 2017/18 Sky Bet Championship season at the Stadium of Light, kick-off: 7:45pm.
The comments Grayson made came after he was asked about the Black Cats’ heavy 5-0 defeat to Celtic in their final pre-season friendly last weekend.
“There was a lot of factors behind that,” he told the media at his pre-match press conference.
“I think Celtic are a very good team and we have seen them playing in Europe this week. They are a long way ahead of us.
“We made some basic mistakes, we missed some opportunities and anything that could go wrong did do.
“It can be a kick up the backside and I think we will be a very different animal for the first game of the season.”
Tonight’s meeting is Sunderland’s first in the second tier for a decade after spending the last 10 years in the Premier League.
That ended last season when they finished bottom of the top-flight table with just six wins from 38 games as they were relegated alongside Hull City and north-east rivals Middlesbrough.
After a summer of change at the club, Grayson, who left Preston North End to become Sunderland’s new manager earlier in the summer, says it is up to the players and staff to ‘give everything’ to get their supporters back on side.
The 47-year-old added: “It is down to ourselves, the staff and the players to build the confidence back up, but also for the players to go out and enjoy themselves and get the supporters back on side.
“We are all in this together. There is going to be lots of ups and downs for many teams over the course of the season and it is about making sure you give everything.
“Any supporter will give a poor result with a least a performance that creates a lot of heart and soul in it.”
It all starts again on Friday night and Grayson took time out to analyse Derby towards the end of his press briefing, saying: “It will be a tough game because they are one of the favourites for the division.
“Gary (Rowett) has been there a period of time now and began implementing his ideas last season and has been able to do that further this summer.
“Perhaps they are a team that thinks they will need to be up there. They underachieved last year and will need to do better.”