SEB Larsson says Sunderland have nothing to fear from the impending derby clash this weekend after a summer of team strengthening at the Stadium of Light.
And far from being nervous about the Newcastle game, the club’s goal hero from the opening day game against Liverpool says he is really looking forward to the sell-out game this Saturday.
Sunderland finished above the Magpies last season thanks to a last day win at West Ham but they were found wanting in both the games between the two sides – thrashed 5-1 at Newcastle and only escaping with a draw on Wearside thanks to a bundled last-minute goal from Asamoah Gyan.
But the Swede say Sunderland are on a club on the up and is convinced they will be a much stronger proposition this time around.
“I think I have joined Sunderland at the right time,” he told SportMail. “They have the feel of a club going places.
“Obviously I spoke to the club before signing and the manager outlined his ambitions and those ambitions coincided with mine.
“But it was still nice to see the players joining after signing myself, so many new players and good names.
“It shows the intent and I think this is the time for the club to push on – right from the beginning of the campaign.
“We have been handed a very exciting start to the season – what with the away game against Liverpool and then the home game against Newcastle.
“The derby game in particular will be interesting and I’m looking forward to it.
“It will be a fantastic atmosphere and as a player you always want to play in big matches like that.
“I think it’s an exciting time for us all.”
and that means we’ve got to go into every game feeling confident.”
Larsson was linked with a move to Newcastle United in some sections of the media in the January transfer window, once it became clear that the midfielder would not be signing a new contract at Birmingham City.
And many on Tyneside will probably go into the game this weekend believing Larsson could have been lining up for them rather than against them.
But the 26-year-old said: “I was not as close to joining Newcastle in January as it was made out that I was in some sections of the Press.
“I never spoke to anyone personally and I didn’t speak to them in the summer.”