Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill revels in ‘fervour’ of a heated Tyne/Wear derby against Newcastle United

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew and Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill (right) mimic each other on the touchline.
Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew and Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill (right) mimic each other on the touchline.

VETERAN though he may be of Old Firm derbies north of the border and full-blooded West Midlands showdowns in this country, Martin O’Neill admitted his first experience of a Tyne-Wear derby was an utterly exhilarating one.

The new Sunderland boss had never been present in the ground for this fixture in his long career in football and had said beforehand he was very much looking forward to his first taste of it.

Afterwards he admitted it had been every bit as intense an occasion as he had expected – even if the final result was not quite what he wanted.

“The derby was everything that people had told me about it,” he enthused. “Absolutely everything.

“There was the hostility – which I’m kind of used to and there was fervour.

“It had everything, everything.”

Read more of O’Neill’s thoughts on a stormy derby day, plus his reactions to “ref-gate”, in today’s Sportmail.