Gus Poyet did not slide on his knees and nor did he claim, after another truly historic destruction of rivals Newcastle at St James’ Park, that he had been visited by the presence of a dead relative.
The scoreline was the same yesterday as that dramatic day in April last year, when Sunderland put three past their hosts and one local started a fight with a horse. But Paolo di Canio was in charge then and such was his quest for the limelight that he slid on the touchline on his besuited knees. He also attributed victory to a vision before the game of his mother. It was a strange day.
There was nothing strange yesterday however, in such a deserved win. Newcastle were fortunate Sunderland only got three and there is much to read into the celebration from Poyet to the two goals that put the home side into a headlock they never looked like having the desire to get out of.
Just short of 20 minutes had passed when Phil Bardsley drove into the Newcastle penalty area and was clumsily tripped by Vurnon Anita. Fabio Borini, who had scored the winning goal in the fixture at the Stadium of Light in October, smashed the spot kick into the top corner of Tim Krul’s goal.
Borini was then booked for antagonising the home support by standing on advertising hoardings. The away fans, high up in the gods, celebrated for their lives. Poyet simply nodded and tucked his chin into the snood he has taken to wearing in the cold of the north-east.
Four minutes later, in a truly stunning period of derby football, Jack Colback broke through a brittle defence and shot to Krul’s left. The effort was only parried by the Newcastle goalkeeper, but he had reason to expect more desire from his left-back Davide Santon to clear the ball. Instead the attempt was weak and Adam Johnson, who seemingly can do no wrong at the minute, prodded in the second. There was delirium in a pocket of the stadium, but Poyet again stayed calm.
It still seems incredible, but after just 24 minutes of a derby, Newcastle had lost. That says much for another calamitous period in a club that has no direction, and, following the sale of Yohan Cabaye last week to Paris Saint Germain with no replacement, no heart.
With their best player (Cabaye) in France, their injured captain (Fabricio Coloccini) back home in Argentina, their best forward (Loic Remy, a Queens Park Rangers player) suspended and with owner Mike Ashley and director of football Joe Kinnear both finding something better to do yesterday afternoon, they were rudderless. Ashley had planned not to come at the start of the week. It was a rare, good decision.
From there Sunderland had free reign to torment their hosts and the level of dominance was such that there may well be a degree of disappointment that they did not really go for the jugular.
Sunderland made history with this victory that was the third successive win against their neighbours, something that had not been achieved since 1924. They could however, have really made a statement as Newcastle’s players wilted inside under pressure.
Jozy Altidore should have scored in the 73rd minute when he was put through by a mis-placed Cheick Tiote pass. He was denied, but seven minutes later Colback, who ran all over the midfield of the team he supported as a boy, smashed a third into Krul’s goal, at the Gallowgate End. That proved too much for one Newcastle supporter, who raced onto the field to angrily wave his season ticket at Alan Pardew, the Newcastle manager.
There is much for Pardew to ponder in the eye of the latest Tyneside crisis, and it is beginning to show.
“Of course I understand the anger and frustration,” he said. “It is the third defeat we have had in a derby. It mirrored the game last year to a degree. You have to have to accept the criticism.
“Listen, when you lose a player of Cabaye’s class you anticipate a replacement, but he didn’t arrive. I have to accept what is in my kitty today and move forward. It would have been nice to have had a player to give us a boost for the second half of the season, but he didn’t arrive.
“We had some performances from individuals that really bemused me. Maybe the pressure of losing the last two played a part today. In terms of the League position we’re okay. It is a blow that is hard to take up here. The fixture means so much to them. It will scar the season for us. As it always does.”
It was the fourth successive game Newcastle have lost at home. They are eighth top of the Premier League but are imploding. The contrast to Sunderland was revealed in the sheer, unbridled joy of their supporters.
“It is one of the best days I have had in football,” said Gus Poyet. “There is no doubt about that.”
“The Sunderland supporters are incredible and when I’m at a club I become a supporter of it too, so I know when you beat your rivals three nil away from home, feelings don’t come much better than that.”
Newcastle Utd (4-2-3-1): Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Taylor, Santon (Dummett, 64); Tiote, Anita (Marveaux, 74); Sissoko, Ben Arfa, Sammy Ameobi (De Jong, 48); Shola Ameobi.
Sunderland (4-3-3): Mannone; Bardsley, O’Shea, Brown, Alonso; Ki, Bridcutt, Colback; Johnson (Larsson, 77), Altidore, Borini (Gardner, 89).
Referee: Phil Dowd.
Man of the match: Colback (Sunderland)
Match rating: 6/10
Newcastle United 0 Sunderland 3: The match in pictures
Newcastle United 0 Sunderland 3: The match in pictures
1/7 Fabio Borini puts Sunderland ahead from the spot
2/7 Fabio Borini (2nd L) of Sunderland celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal
3/7 Adam Johnson scores Sunderland's second
4/7 Adam Johnson celebrates his goal
5/7 Jack Colback scores Sunderland's third goal
6/7 Gus Poyet celebrates Sunderland's third goal
7/7 A Newcastle incensed by Sunderland's third goal