Old firm memory drives Advocaat in Sunderland and Newcastle derby

Sunderland Head Coach, Dick Advocaat gestures on the touchline against West Ham United.
Sunderland Head Coach, Dick Advocaat gestures on the touchline against West Ham United.

DICK Advocaat says he understands how important the Wear-Tyne derby is – after being hammered 5-1 in an Old Firm clash.

Sunderland boss Advocaat says he won’t underestimate the size of the game against Newcastle United next weekend after learning from his mistakes while in charge of Rangers.

The Dutchman spent four years in charge of the Scottish giants, but admits he did not fully appreciate the importance of the Rangers-Celtic rivalry when he arrived in Glasgow in 1998.

Having played down the significance of the games, and after a goalless draw in his first clash with Celtic, his second brush with the cross-city rivals ended in a humiliating 5-1 defeat at Celtic Park.

And it is a lesson he has not forgotten as he prepares for Newcastle’s visit to the Stadium of Light on Easter Sunday.

“For us it’s a big game,” he said.

“It’s very important not just because it is a derby, but because we need points.

“Every next game is always the most important, but this time it is against Newcastle and that makes it even more so.

“I made a mistake in one of my first Celtic-Rangers games after I had taken over at Rangers.

“They (the media) said ‘it’s a huge game’. I said we had 24 huge games, or however many it was.

“But afterwards I understood how important that game is there!

“We lost 1-5, but I said after that game that we will not do that again and we went on to become champions and win two cups that season.”

Advocaat’s first game in charge of Sunderland since replacing sacked head coach Gus Poyet ended in a 1-0 defeat at West Ham on Saturday.

But the 67-year-old believes home advantage will be crucial as Sunderland look to extend their derby winning streak to five games.

“In derbies, I think being at home gives you a big advantage,” he said.

“If we do what we did at West Ham, tactics-wise, in a home game with our fans behind us, we can do much better against Newcastle.”