Sam Allardyce insists all the pressure is on his shoulders in the Wear-Tyne derby, as he looks to continue Sunderland’s winning streak over Newcastle, writes Chris Young.
Sunderland head into this coming Sunday’s Stadium of Light clash as the only side in the top four divisions yet to record a victory after their defeat at West Brom was followed by Newcastle’s 6-2 rout of Norwich City yesterday.
But we’ll wait and see on the players; only the players can make everyone smile next week. They just have to carry on what they have done five times before.
Newcastle boss Steve McClaren has come under scrutiny over recent weeks after the Tynesiders splashed out £50million during the summer, only to find themselves in the thick of another relegation battle.
But Allardyce – who will aim to become the fourth successive Sunderland manager to beat Newcastle in his second game at the helm – believes there is more heat on him, as he looks to preserve the Black Cats’ winning run against their fierce rivals and secure a record-breaking six derby successes on the spin.
When asked if there been a bigger derby game for many years, Allardyce said: “No. I’ve got to look after the reputation of Sunderland.
“The pressure’s on me, more than it’s on Steve.
“We’ve won the last five, so I don’t want to be the one who doesn’t win it.
“But we’ll wait and see on the players; only the players can make everyone smile next week. They just have to carry on what they have done five times before.
“They have been struggling, but won the last five games against Newcastle.
“They don’t need me to coach them this week!
“Let’s hope for the same again.”
Allardyce was encouraged by the defensive improvement from Sunderland in his opening game in charge at The Hawthorns, as the Black Cats got to half-time without conceding for only the second time this season.
But Saido Berahino’s controversial goal – West Brom’s only effort on target – inflicted a sixth defeat out of nine for winless Sunderland and sank Allardyce’s side back to the bottom of the table.
Allardyce hopes to reap the benefits from a first full week on the training ground with his entire squad, but admits he can only do so much.
“I hope the players are willing to listen and get better,” he added.
“Hopefully, with my experience of managing at this level and knowing what it takes to get out of this position, we can do that.
“But there’s only me who guide them. It’s up to them to do it.
“If they take on board what I think they need to, hopefully we’ll have enough ability in front of goal to turn performances into victories.
“On the basis of such a short space of time, if we can carry on being defensively solid and obviously use the ball better, particularly in the second half, I can get these players believing a bit more.
“Then we can turn the corner as quickly as possible.
“We all hope that will be next Sunday now against our dearest rivals.”