Newcastle boss Alan Pardew calls for calm ahead of 'great derby'


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The Independent Football

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will put his unbeaten record on the line as he heads into “one of the great derbies of the world” at Sunderland on Sunday.

The 51-year-old can boast four points from his two previous visits to the Stadium of Light and a draw from his only home game against the Magpies' arch-rivals to date.

Londoner Pardew freely admits he did not fully understand the magnitude of the battle for local supremacy until he arrived in the north-east, but the crash-course he has undergone since has left him in little doubt.

He said: "No, if am honest, not with the intensity that I have found. It's one of the great derbies of the world, you have to say that.

"But when you are involved in this - and I have been to many, many games, including the Glasgow derby, and this game is as venomous as that.

"It makes it electric. You don't want to lose that passion, but hopefully at the end of the game, everybody shakes hands, the better team has won and we all go home safely. That's important."

In the circumstances, Pardew will call for cool heads on the pitch, and will attempt to set an example on the sideline this time around after angry exchanges between the two benches at St James' Park in March, during which he admits he allowed himself to be carried away.

He said: "There is a little bit of passion flying about and it needs to be conducted in the right manner by players and staff alike.

"But emotions sometimes get the better of you, like it did with me at the end of last season's game when we scored in the last minute. It's an emotive game, we want to win.

"Martin O'Neill wants to win, I want to win, Sunderland want to win and Newcastle want to win, so it is a big, big game.

"Both myself and Martin will be very keen that 11 men end the game. You have got to control your emotions because at some point, there will be a flash-point in the game.

"There will be a tackle that's mis-timed and probably look worse than it is, and it will be how you behave when that incident occurs."

If Newcastle are to maintain their good recent record at Sunderland - they have lost there in the league only once since 1980 - they will have to deal with the threat of in-form striker Steven Fletcher, whose summer arrival, along with that of England winger Adam Johnson, has significantly strengthened O'Neill's hand.

Pardew said: "I have to say, it is the strongest Sunderland side I have faced since I have been manager.

"They certainly have a few players who could get in our team, outstanding individuals, Fletcher probably being the pick of them at the minute.

"He seems to be gold-dust whatever he hits, so we must be very aware of him and an outstanding team unit that they have forged.

"Make no mistake, it's a difficult game for us and one we won't be taking lightly by any stretch of the imagination."

Fletcher's run of form - he has scored all five of the Black Cats' Barclays Premier League goals so far this season - makes the impending returns of central defenders Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor, as well as keeper Tim Krul, all the more timely, and Pardew admits that his Argentinian captain in particular has been a big miss as he has recovered from a hamstring problem.

He added: "The most important person in the whole team has been Coloccini, and we have been missing him. He has only played two or three games this season.

"His leadership, his presence, his control sets an example for everybody else. In periods in games, we have desperately needed him and not had him, so it would be nice to see him there."