BOSS Alan Pardew says he doesn’t care how Newcastle plays in the Tyne-Wear derby – as long as they win.
Newcastle last beat Sunderland in August 2011, when Ryan Taylor scored the only goal of the game at the Stadium of Light.
United have lost the last two derbies, and the Magpies have not lost three in a row since 1923.
Pardew came under fire from irate fans after the last two derbies, and much more than three points rest on the outcome of the game.
“The thing you do know about this fixture is it really is immaterial how you play,” said Pardew, whose side were beaten 2-1 on Wearside in October. “It’s really all about the result.
“I think our fans know for us it’s a big game, and we need to show that on the pitch, which perhaps we didn’t in the first 15 minutes of that game.
“It was probably the only period that I was disappointed in, and we need to show from the start that we are ready for this big, big fixture.”
Gus Poyet has rejuvenated Capital One Cup finalists Sunderland since taking charge, with the Black Cats finally climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone after beating Stoke City in midweek.
Poyet twice guided former team Brighton to FA Cup wins over Pardew’s Newcastle in his time at the Amex Stadium, and the Magpies’ manager is understandably wary, despite the gulf between the two clubs in the league.
“They’re playing well, and you have to take your hat off to him and say he’s done a great job so far in there,” said Pardew.
“To get to a cup final and still be in the FA Cup, and get out of the relegation zone from where the were, was a great achievement for Gus and his staff.
“We have to accept that they are in a much better place than when we (last) played them, so we have to make sure we are at our very best. It’s just a little bit bigger than any other game because of the emotion that’s involved.
“The fans make it special, particularly at our place, and it’s important we rise to the occasion.”
* Don’t miss tomorrow’s derby special Football Echo – it’s online from around 7pm with the biggest and best coverage of the big day