Rafael Benitez tells his Newcastle players to forget their derby record

19 March 2016 01:23

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez has ordered his players to forget their dreadful derby record against Sunderland as they attempt to put it right in the club's hour of need.

Six times on the trot the men from Wearside have got the better of their neighbours from the banks of the Tyne with Alan Pardew, John Carver and Steve McClaren all sampling the bitter taste of defeat at the hands of their arch-rivals.

But Benitez, a veteran of derbies on Merseyside and Milan, Madrid and Naples knows the only one that matters is the next one, and it is with that thought that he will send his troops into battle at St James' Park on Sunday.

Asked if the Black Cats' recent dominance of the fixture would way heavily on his players, the 55-year-old Spaniard said: "Not really.

"When you have a derby, anything can happen - every game, every season, every manager, new players, so everything changes and hopefully we can change also the result and the score will be good for us.

"But you cannot be thinking about what happened in the past, you have to concentrate on what you will do on the pitch and what will happen in the future. It's really good if you can win, and we will try to think about that and nothing else.

"We know that every game is really, really important and especially this one because it's a derby and the situation in the table for both teams, so we know we have to get these three points to keep the positive mood that we have at the moment."

Any positivity on Tyneside stems from Benitez's arrival in place of McClaren, whose reign belatedly came to an end after a dismal 3-1 home defeat by Bournemouth which left the club in desperate relegation trouble.

There were signs of an improvement on Monday evening when Newcastle lost to the only goal - and a special one at that - in a hard-fought game at leaders Leicester, but their twin inabilities to keep clean sheets and score goals remain costly.

Benitez said: "They [the players] know we played against Leicester at the top of the table and we did a good job.

"We lost and that is the main thing, but still you could see some positives, so I will try to start with these positives and then approach the derby with this idea that we have done good things and they have to carry on doing these good things for a while.

"At this stage of the season, every game, every point is really important and we have to be really, really focussed."

Source: PA