The Black Cats last three managers – Paolo Di Canio, Gus Poyet and Dick Advocaat – each lost their first game and went on to win the derby in their second match in charge. Sunday’s game will be Sam Allardyce’s first Tyne-Wear derby for the Black Cats following their slender 1-0 defeat to West Brom last weekend.
But Allardyce already has experience in this derby, having managed Newcastle United for a forgettable eight-month period in 2007. He oversaw a single derby in his time with the Magpies, a 1-1 draw that saw Danny Higginbotham’s opener cancelled out by James Milner.
If Allardyce can mastermind a win over his new club’s bitter rivals, he may endear himself to the Sunderland supporters, who haven’t had much to celebrate since dodging relegation at the end of last season.
Momentum may be with Steve McClaren and his Newcastle team, after their 6-2 win against Norwich last weekend. But a game against Sunderland is completely different, who have yet to record a win this season and sit bottom of the Premier Table after nine games; three points and two places behind Newcastle.
Encounters between Allardyce and McClaren have been fairly equal in recent years. They have four wins each and four draws in the previous 12 games they’ve faced one another.
In 2006, Allardyce and McClaren were both shortlisted to take over from Sven-Göran Eriksson as the England manager. McClaren got the job, but failed to take England to Euro 2008, earning himself the sack, the shortest tenure of any England manager, and infamous nickname: “wally with the brolly”.
Allardyce has had a relatively successful – if unglamorous – career, but has yet to win a trophy, whilst McClaren can look to his superb League Cup victory for Middlesbrough in 2004, and perhaps his even more impressive UEFA Cup campaign of 2006 when he took his side all the way to the final, only to be outclassed by Sevilla.
Whatever the result may be on Sunday, expect an edgy and tumultuous affair. Sunderland and Newcastle fans are among the most passionate in the Premier League despite their recent failings, and the Tyne-Wear derby is infamously toxic and emotional. Expect plenty of cards, drama, and passion.
Live Sunday 25th October 2015 on Sky Sports 1 & Sky Sports 1 HD at 12:00.
* images from The Guardian, whoateallthepies.tv & Chronicle Live