Sam Allardyce: Why Steve McClaren was ‘grateful’ for secret derby, despite scoreline

Steve McClaren
Steve McClaren

Sam Allardyce insists the scoreline in the ‘secret derby’ against Newcastle was meaningless, despite Sunderland romping to a 6-0 win over their neighbours.

Sunderland thrashed Newcastle in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday, with Duncan Watmore netting a hat-trick for the Black Cats.

Allardyce and opposite number Steve McClaren had agreed to arrange the game to give their fringe figures a run-out in a high intensity encounter, with neither club involved in this weekend’s FA Cup fourth round.

And Sunderland boss Allardyce has stressed that game-time for the likes of new signings Jan Kirchhoff and Dame N’Doye was far more important than the final score.

Allardyce said: “The result was nothing. If we had lost 6-0, it wouldn’t have mattered to me whatsoever.

“All that mattered was how the players played and got through 90 minutes of a quality, high-tempo game at the Stadium of Light.

“That’s very difficult to achieve with our geographical position. In this area, there’s only Middlesbrough and Newcastle who can provide a game of that level.

“That’s why me and Steve (McClaren) were very grateful to put the game on.

“With no game this weekend, playing those players and giving them a feel with who they’ll play with and getting some match practice was very important to us.”

Allardyce named a strong Sunderland side with hot prospect Jordan Pickford in goal behind a back four of Adam Matthews, centre-back pairing of Kirchhoff and Thomas Beadling and Spurs loanee DeAndre Yedlin at left-back.

The midfield trio was Jack Rodwell, Ola Toivonen and Liam Agnew, with Duncan Watmore, Steven Fletcher and N’Doye the front three.

Fellow new signing, veteran goalkeeper Steve Harper, watched on from the stands.