Sam Allardyce says Sunderland’s winning streak against Newcastle is all the more remarkable considering the Black Cats’ annual fight against relegation.
Allardyce feels the weight of expectation on his shoulders for his opening home game in charge of Sunderland this weekend, as he looks to guide the club to a record-breaking sixth successive derby win.
It’s such a fantastic record for Sunderland.
Sunderland’s success against Newcastle over the last three seasons has been one of the main reasons for the Black Cats remaining in the Premier League and narrowly avoiding the drop.
It’s the same scenario on Sunday, as basement boys Sunderland go in search of their maiden win of the campaign to narrow the five-point gap from safety.
Allardyce said: “I’ve got to keep the record going, there’s no doubt about that.
“The feeling in the North East runs very passionately, we all know that.
“It’s such a fantastic record for Sunderland, based on the trouble they’ve been in over the last four years, because they’ve been fighting in the relegation zone.
“Whenever this game has come around, they’ve produced a performance which you’d like to see every week. This is a big game for the Sunderland fans.”
Allardyce has had almost a fortnight in charge of Sunderland’s players, with his opening game ending in defeat at West Brom last weekend.
It already looks a stern test for a manager renowned for stabilising clubs in the Premier League after achieving that feat at Bolton, Blackburn and West Ham.
But when asked by 5Live whether this is his toughest job yet, Allardyce said: “It’s a bit early to tell!
“I didn’t think I’d be back in this early, but if I was going to come back into the Premier League, it was going to be a club that was struggling.
“So why not do it sooner rather than later, when there’s 30 games to save them - 29 now after unfortunately losing the first one.
“It’s up to me to try to impose a winning mentality on the whole football club, not just the players, but the staff behind them. They’re very important in terms of pushing the players forward.”