LEIGHTON JAMES COLUMN: Swansea City are a better side than Cardiff City, but that does not guarantee derby win
PLAY with fire in your belly, ice in your mind and a chuckle in your boots.
That was always the message from Jimmy Anderson, my manager at Burnley, and never was it more appropriate than when preparing for a derby.
Swansea City will enter a cauldron of wild, swirling emotions when they run out at the Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday.
Such an environment can be difficult to play in, but it will be easier for the Swansea and Cardiff squads of 2013 because few of them have local connections.
The likes of Leon Britton, Angel Rangel and Ashley Williams have been at the Liberty long enough to develop a fondness for the club.
And at Cardiff, local lad Craig Bellamy as well as long-serving Peter Whittingham will understand exactly what the fixture is all about.
But in my day, both teams were packed with players who had grown up in South Wales.
I played in two Swansea v Cardiff games in the 1980-81 campaign, each of which ended in a draw.
Back then our side also included the likes of Alan Curtis, Robbie James, Jeremy Charles, Wyndham Evans and Dudley Lewis, while Cardiff had Phil Dwyer, John Lewis and Linden Jones, who came from their side of the divide.
It was hard not to get distracted by the derby because for three or four weeks before the game, that's all your friends and family would be talking about.
Now the two sides have a raft of players from all over the planet, and with the best will in the world, they will not have the same feeling for the fixture as we did. But that could be a good thing. Such detachment may prevent them from getting wrapped up in the frenzied atmosphere of the occasion.
Michael Laudrup has certainly played in a few derbies — not least El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid — while Malky Mackay knows all about Old Firm clashes having been at Celtic in his early days.
They will know how to prepare their teams for such games while supporters, along with senior players, will convey what's at stake to their colleagues.
I think Anderson's mantra — which basically means give your all, stay calm and enjoy it — is one worth remembering for all the Swansea players.
Some will become more worked up than others by the derby situation — and that's fine. You need passionate players in your team.
But the aggression must be controlled — and it's up to the manager and other players to keep those hot heads in check.
You can be walking a tightrope in highly-charged matches. The skill is harnessing the adrenalin that is pumping around your body without letting it spill over.
Emotions are bound to be running high and that is why the outcome of derbies is so difficult to predict. They tend to come down to spirit rather than skill, guts instead of guile.
I'm confident Swansea have a better team than Cardiff.
When I look through Mackay's squad, only the likes of Steven Caulker, Craig Bellamy, Gary Medel and Peter Whittingham could compete for places in Swansea's side — and even then I'm not sure they'd get in.
But then derby fever is an incredible leveller.