Former Sunderland star Micky Gray outlined on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast show on talkSPORT on Friday morning (broadcast from 6am, March 18) what he is worried about Newcastle United.
Newcastle will take on Sunderland at St. James’ Park in the Premier League later today.
With both teams fighting for survival in the English top flight, today’s Tyne-Wear derby is one of the biggest and most important in history.
Gray suggested that the managerial change at Newcastle could give the home side a lift.
“The thing that worries me is Benitez has gone to Newcastle,” said the former England international on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast show on talkSPORT on Friday morning (broadcast from 6am, March 18).
“The three seasons before we (Sunderland) have changed our manager, we have got the right result. We have won six in a row now, looking obviously for the seventh one.
"I think this is going to be hardest of the lot. Rafa has got them organised, it’s going to be a really difficult game.”
When asked for his prediction of the final result, Gray said: “2-2.”
Rafael Benitez replaced Steve McClaren as the Newcastle boss earlier this month, and the Spaniard will be determined to pick up all three points today.
The former Liverpool manager is a very good tactician, and one suspects that he will make the Magpies tight at the back.
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce is also defence-minded, and it will be fascinating to see how today’s game unfolds.
Playing at home is certainly going to give Newcastle an advantage, but the Black Cats could manage to eke out a narrow 1-0 victory.