Sam Allardyce has his say on feud with Rafael Benitez ahead of Tyne-Wear derby

Sam Allardyce Press Conference 12/02/2014

The Sunderland manager says any past animosity between himself and the Newcastle boss is now "water under the bridge".

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has moved to quash any talk of his past feud with Rafael Benitez ahead of the Tyne-Wear derby on Sunday which will see the two managers reunited, as quoted by the Sun.

The rivals bosses have been in involved in several disagreements and have exchanged barbed comments on more than one occasion in past years whilst Benitez was manager of Liverpool.

Perhaps the most notorious of these was a claim Allardyce made in his autobiography that the Spaniard was wrongly basking in the glory of the Reds' Champions League victory in 2005, with the Englishman saying the credit should have been given to the players instead.

However, ahead of the men being reunited at St. James' Park this weekend when Allardyce's Sunderland take on Benitez's Newcastle, the Black Cats boss insisted that their animosity was a thing of the past.

He told reporters, as quoted by the Sun: "All that stuff with Rafa is long gone. It was stuff we did, mind games. I was in to that back then. I did that at my stage of my career.

"But I saw Rafa when he was at Chelsea and I was at West Ham and it was fine. No problem. They beat us but we still had a chat.

"It is so long ago all that stuff that it is water under the bridge. We will just prepare our teams the best we can for this game. This is about players, it’s not about me against Rafa."

Despite the mellowing of their relationship between the two coaches, it would be no surprise to see them exchanging heated words this weekend, with the derby match of crucial importance to both sides.

With it looking as though it will be any two of Sunderland, Newcastle and Norwich City to join bottom club Aston Villa in the Championship next season, both teams are in serious peril.

Allardyce's side, who have won the last six meetings with the Magpies, are a point and two places ahead of their second-bottom rivals, albeit having played a game more.

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