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United told to forget about title party
MANCHESTER UNITED were last night told to forget about holding a Premier League title party at the Stadium of Light because defeat is simply something Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole does not want to endure.
Cattermole is readily aware of the importance of the final fixture of the campaign. United are in desperate need to better the result of Manchester City at home to Queens Park Rangers if they are to retain the crown they won last season.
But the Sunderland midfielder does not want to even consider the fight between the two Manchester rivals at the top of the division, he is just keen to focus on ending on a high.
The Black Cats are without a win in eight matches going in to this weekend. With a three month lay-off before the action resumes in August, Cattermole is keen to avoid extending that to nine.
There was disappointment and frustration after last Sunday's defeat at Fulham, when Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele's goals sandwiched Phil Bardsley's thunderbolt at Craven Cottage.
Cattermole said: "As a player you never want to get beaten. It kills your weekend and you go home unhappy. You play for pride, your team and fans, and we have got a lot to play for.
"We will go in to it with a strong side and will try to win. We would never have it any other way. It is a long summer break and you do not want to go into it on the back of a defeat. A win over United would give everyone in the club a big boost so that's what all the players will be aiming for.
"It might be a big game for United, but it is three points in the Premier League and that makes it a massive game for us too. Just because we can't win the league doesn't mean it is worth any less to us. It is all about being professional and that is what we will be in every game, win or lose."
Given the topsy-turvy season Sunderland have encountered, it will be exciting for supporters to head in to the summer on the back of an impressive victory over Manchester United.
Fans have been encouraged by the turnaround since Martin O'Neill took over from Steve Bruce, who paid the price for an alarming slump in results during last year.
O'Neill is intent on making additions during the close-season, particularly as he will be losing loan signings Wayne Bridge, Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Nicklas Bendtner after Sunday's visit from the Red Devils.
"It is a big game, no doubt about it," said Cattermole. "But it is a big match for us players and our fans, not just for United. It is the last game of the season, which is a special occasion and you have to show appreciation to the supporters for their efforts this season.
"It is a huge game to be involved in. We have got important points to play for if we want to finish as high up as we can in the table and it will not be taken lightly by us.
"Anything could happen. We have to make sure we do our part. We go in to it with the right attitude, which we will and focus on our own performances. The rest of the country might be watching Manchester United, but we have to only care about Sunderland."
One of the permanent departures from the Sunderland squad will be Asamoah Gyan. O'Neill has already admitted as much and now the Ghana striker himself has accepted it.
But, interestingly, he has hinted that completing a full-time switch to Al-Ain, where he has been a success on loan, is not a formality.
The 26-year-old said: "Honestly, I'm very happy since I came here, everything seems to be perfect. Definitely if you go somewhere and everything there is perfect, you want to stay, but we are still in negotiations and we will have to wait and see until the end of my loan deal.
"It could be anywhere. I'm ready to go anywhere and I need to make the right decision. Any decision I make, I think, has to be the right decision for me, not for the people."
Gyan's 24 goals helped Al-Ain to the Pro-League title, but O'Neill is keen to move him on and bring in a striker that could slot in to Sunderland's style under him.