Rafael Benitez brushed off the importance of Sunderland’s recent record over Newcastle United by pointing at a number of changes heading into this weekend’s clash at St. James’ Park, the Northern Echo report.
The Black Cats have won the last six meetings between the two sides, with Newcastle only scoring once during that time and that was at the Stadium of Light back in 2013.
Sunderland won the reverse fixture this season by three goals to nil, and their last defeat at Newcastle came way back in 2010 which could give them a psychological edge.
Benitez, however, has suggested that the recent head-to-head record between the two teams counts for very little when so many changes have happened at both clubs both on and off the pitch.
“Does it mean anything? Not really. When you have a derby, everything can happen. It’s a different game, a different season, a new manager – everything has changed,” Benitez told the Northern Echo.
“Hopefully, we can also change the result, and the score will be good for us. You cannot be thinking about what has happened in the past – you have to be concentrating on what you are doing on the pitch and what will happen in the future.”
After Sunderland defeated Newcastle 1-0 at the back-end of last season, supporters of the Wearside club decided to mock their rivals by flying a banner reading ‘5 in a row’ over St. James’ Park.
It was a particularly joyous occasion for the Black Cats as that victory went some way to helping the club preserve their Premier League status for another season.
But now they find themselves in a similar position, currently one place above the drop zone and one point above the Magpies heading in to an encounter which neither side can afford to lose.