He might regard Manchester United as “just another team now,” but Phil Bardsley is not daft enough to pretend tonight’s game is a run-of-the-mill affair for either side.
Bardsley grew up supporting his local club and made 18 appearances for them before joining Sunderland six years ago.
Much as the Red Devils need to reach a cup final this evening, Bardsley is desperate to stop that happening.
He said of tonight’s hosts: “It’s quite different now Fergie (Sir Alex Ferguson)’s not there.
“It’s a completely different Man United to when I was there. It’s just another team now.”
Sunderland will have 9,000 supporters as they defend an aggregate lead - and Bardsley is expecting a great occasion.
He said of the Black Cats’ travelling support: “It’s amazing, isn’t it?
“It’s fantastic for the fans going to Old Trafford and taking on the champions of England 2-1 up.
“We have nothing to lose. We can go there, try to play with a bit of freedom and see what happens.
“It will be special, all my family and friends will be going.
“They all come up here but it will be pretty special to play there and I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’m just trying not to get drawn into the occasion. I just want to go on to the pitch and enjoy it.
“There’s a lot of pressure on them because they haven’t been great, have they? We’ll go there, give it our all and hopefully come away getting to Wembley.”
Bardsley made his debut in a 2003 League Cup tie at West Bromwich Albion,and three of his ten starts came in the competition.
It demonstrates the lukewarm attitude the club has shown the competition, but this season it offers a chance for manager David Moyes’ first major trophy – and in all likelihood the only one.
Bardsley added: “They’ve used the League Cup to blood a lot of younger players – I made my debut in it – but this is massive for them,.
“With (Wayne) Rooney and (Danny) Welbeck at full force, it will be up to us to stop them. That’s what it’s all about isn’t it?”
He thinks the best approach is to fight fire with fire.
He said: “You just have to go into the game thinking it’s 0-0.
“We’ll try and score goals if we can because if we do score we will have a heck of a chance.
“We’ll go there and enjoy it and try to express ourselves. There’s nowt to fear at Old Trafford any more I don’t think.”