Sunderland fans hope Big Sam can trump new Newcastle boss Benitez at derby

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

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“We wish you’d stuck by the Wally with the Brolly!”

That’s the message from a Sunderland supporters group chief after it was announced that rivals Newcastle United have dumped head coach Steve McClaren and installed Rafa Benitez as the club’s new manager.

Steve McClaren

Steve McClaren

The move comes just over a week before the two teams face each other at St James’s Park in a crunch relegation clash.

Sunderland’s last four managers or head coaches, Paolo Di Canio, Gus Poyet, Dick Advocaat and Sam Allardyce, have all lost their first game in charge of the Wearsiders before going on to defeat the Magpies in their second encounter.

The clubs lie just a point apart in the Premier League table.

Veteran Black Cats fan George Forster, of Sunderland Supporters’ Association, said he would’ve been happy to see ex-England boss McClaren continue in his role, with the Tynesiders currently in a woeful run of form.

Chairman Sunderland Supporters Association George Forster.

Chairman Sunderland Supporters Association George Forster.

“I would think if you speak to many of our supporters they would say that they’d hoped McClaren would still be in office,” said George.

“But it isn’t to be.

“We’ve just got to accept what those in charge at Newcastle have done and hope our lads play as well as they can a week on Sunday.”

Despite the appointment of former Valencia, Liverpool and Real Madrid manager Benitez, George added that he is still confident his side can gather enough points to stay up.

“I’ve always said we can stay up and I think Big Sam will look after us,” he added.

“Our last game at Southampton when we drew felt like a defeat but at least we’ve been picking up points.”