Is changing manager ahead of Sunderland clash a clever ploy by Newcastle United?
Sunderland will travel to St James' Park next week for one of the most important Tyne-Wear derbies in recent years, searching for their seventh consecutive win over their most bitter rivals.
There have been various contributory factors to the Black Cats' derby dominance in recent years, with one underlying factor being the positive effects of the "new manager syndrome".
With confirmation of Rafa Benitez taking over the helm at Newcastle after Steve McClaren's eventual dismissal, the prospect of a derby contest in the second game of his reign is one that will be all too familiar for Sunderland fans.
Prior to Sam Allardyce, Sunderland’s three previous permanent managers have faced the Magpies in the second game of their reign - a formula that has yielded plenty of succes.
Paolo Di Canio started the trend with a 3-0 win at St James' Park at the end of March 2013, before his replacement - Gus Poyet - did the same in October of that year.
Poyet was sacked in March 2015 following a 4-0 home defeat to Aston Villa, with Dick Advocaat entrusted with the task of keeping Sunderland in the Premier League.
A Jermain Defoe stunner sealed a 1-0 derby win in the Dutchman's second game in charge as Sunderland eventually went on to avoid the drop.
But Advocaat struggled at the beginning of the current campaign, with the Wearsiders turning to former Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce amid another Premier League relegation battle.
Allardyce’s men did the business to make it six in a row earlier in the season, despite bucking the trend of it being the second game of his tenure.
Sunderland will be hoping the trend is bucked again on March 20th as they look to leave Benitez and Newcastle further in the mire. Fans on Tyneside, however, will be hopeful that the Spaniard's arrival will help replicate the trend that has lead to the derby success enjoyed by their fiercest rivals.