Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce said his side have proved they handle derby-day pressure better than Newcastle United, ahead of their Tyne-Wear derby with Steve McLaren’s Magpies.
Allardyce believes mental strength is the key to winning a derby, and Sunderland’s five-game winning streak over their rivals is evidence that they have the edge in that area.
Allardyce will look to extend Sunderland’s derby dominance and add his name to the list of managers – which include Paolo di Canio, Gus Poyet and Dick Advocaat – who have kept that run going at the Stadium of Light on Sunday.
“Recently, the club hasn’t been in that great a position in the Premier League but has still managed to pull off this victory,” he said.
“That proves the old cliche that it doesn’t matter what form you are in, or where you are in the league, when it comes to a derby it is who does it better on the day.
“And consistently, Sunderland have been able to manage the occasion better than Newcastle.
“The results have proved that.
“That’s what we have got to do again: handle the occasion better than Newcastle.”
Sunday’s clash will be Allardyce’s second in charge of Sunderland, and his first at the Stadium of Light.
He admitted the fact that it was a derby, and there is extra pressure due to Sunderland looking to become the first club to achieve six successive Tyne-Wear derby wins.
He added: “I think there’s extra pressure on me because we’ve won five derbies on the trot. Absolutely.
“The expectation from the fans is for us to make it six. They look forward to us winning, so that’s what we have to do.
“Because we’ve won the last five, we’ve got to carry it on.
“That’s what we’ve got to impress on the players.
“They’ve done it five times without me, so they should remember that.
“If they need any guidance from me, fine, but really it is in their own hands – because most of them will remember how the occasion went and why they won it.”
Sunderland have doubts over Adam Matthews (foot) and Fabio Borini (knock), with the latter to undergo a late fitness test.