WHEN it goes wrong at Newcastle United under Alan Pardew, it really does go wrong.
Unfortunately, it’s gone spectacularly wrong in two Tyne-Wear derbies.
It can’t happen again, can it?
A fourth successive derby defeat to Sunderland would be unprecedented for Newcastle.
And it would be unthinkable for Pardew, United’s long-serving manager.
The club’s derby record under Pardew – one win in seven games – is been an embarrassment for a support whose team had had the upper hand for many years.
Certainly embarrassment was one of the milder emotions felt by fans as they left St James’s Park after the last Tyne-Wear fixture in February.
They’d seen their team beaten 3-0 at home by Sunderland for the second successive season.
The scoreline didn’t flatter Gus Poyet’s side, either.
Managers often live and die by derby results – their tenures are often defined by results against their club’s rivals – and Pardew needs a win, however, it comes.
Pardew knows this. He gets the passion of the region, and he gets the derby.
Maybe his record would be marginally better had Cheik Tiote not been sent off in the fixture at the Stadium of Light two seasons ago with his team leading 1-0 through a Yohan Cabaye goal.
Newcastle had been dominant up to then. But not much has gone right in derbies for the club since Tiote was shown that red card.
It went wrong again in the cup for Pardew at White Hart Lane on Wednesday night.
United were convincingly beaten 4-0 by Tottenham Hotspur in a Capital One Cup quarter-final just four days after suffering a 4-1 Premier League defeat to Arsenal a few miles away at the Emirates Stadium.
Admittedly, the club has been harder hit by injuries than most.
The loss of Tim Krul – and Rob Elliot, his understudy – has left 21-year-old Jak Alnwick in goal.
The Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs games were big, but not nearly as big as Sunday’s derby.
Alnwick is certainly brave – he had to be when he came off the bench against the Premier League leaders – and bravery is a quality which he and his team will need with and without the ball against Sunderland.
United were brave against Chelsea.
They competed physically, and were enterprising in the final third of the pitch on their last home appearance.
If Chelsea are beatable at St James’s Park, then so are Poyet’s side.
It’s about time it went right for Newcastle – and Pardew – against Sunderland.