LONDON (Reuters) – Newcastle United will do everything in their power to end their “unbearable” sequence of derby defeats to arch-rivals Sunderland on Sunday, manager Steve McClaren has written in an open letter to fans.
“The importance of this match is not lost on me or any of our players.
“I don’t need reminding that we have lost the last five derbies and for everyone associated with the club that is simply unbearable,” he wrote.
“It wasn’t so long ago that we won five in row and we are desperately keen and hugely motivated to turn the tide and bring the points back to Tyneside.
“The atmosphere is always incredible and I think unique to the North East, and we have to go there, stand up and be counted.”
Some extra spice is added to what is always a hugely passionate Tyne-Wear derby following the recent appointment of former Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce at Sunderland.
Allardyce had eight unhappy months at St James’ Park eight years ago and was in charge for only 24 league and cup matches before he was sacked in January 2008.
Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland ended in a 1-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion last weekend, leaving Sunderland bottom of the Premier League and the only team in the division without a win.
They have just three points. Newcastle, two places above them, have six.
Newcastle won for the first time this season when they crushed Norwich City 6-2 on Sunday and McClaren is keen to make it back-to-back wins for the first time in nearly a year.
But he told reporters at his pre-match briefing that he was not preparing for the game any differently from any other.
McClaren and his assistants moved to Newcastle after the end of last season and he said: “We don’t know anything about the five previous ones and I know half the team probably won’t, either.
“It’s a fresh game and why should we approach it any differently than we approach Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Norwich, Watford …. we have to approach every game the same.
“This game is massive for the fans and I know there is a determination in this club to get that win for the fans.”
Newcastle crushed Norwich with Giorginio Wijnaldum scoring four times, and Ayoze Perez and Aleksandar Mitrovic adding the others, but McClaren told the fans in his letter no-one was getting carried away by one win.
“Gigi took most of the plaudits after the game, and rightly so. However, there were still areas we identified that need to be worked on and that’s what we’ve been concentrating on this week on the training pitch,” he said.
Newcastle last beat Sunderland in August 2011 and in all have gone seven matches without a victory over their neighbours, having drawn the next two before Sunderland’s run of wins began.
(Reporting by Mike Collett,; Editing by Neville Dalton)