Sunderland v Newcastle United: It’s not Sam Allardyce v Mike Ashley

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce. Picture by FRANK REID
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce. Picture by FRANK REID
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Sam Allardyce insists there will be NO personal revenge mission against Newcastle owner Mike Ashley in the Wear-Tyne derby.

Allardyce becomes the first manager to have occupied a place in each derby dug-out, when he looks to steer Sunderland to a record-breaking sixth successive victory over Newcastle tomorrow lunchtime.

I have no qualms with anybody, certainly not Mike.

SAM ALLARDYCE

The 61-year-old had been approached by Newcastle on a couple of occasions during his tenure as Bolton manager before he finally took charge at St James’s Park in the summer of 2007.

But his time on Tyneside lasted just eight months, with Ashley’s takeover midway through the campaign prompting the Sports Direct tycoon to axe Allardyce and bring Kevin Keegan back to the club.

Allardyce has reiterated the words from his new autobiography though by claiming that he harbours no resentment towards being sacked by the Magpies.

“Newcastle was an experience I wanted to last a long time, but it didn’t,” said Allardyce.

“But I have no qualms with anybody, certainly not Mike.

“He made the decision and he got on with it. He sorted me out, I left, and for me, it was good luck to him.

“Whatever anybody said, he’s still the owner of the football club trying to win as many matches as Steve (McClaren) does.”

Allardyce’s one and only derby in charge of Newcastle came at the Stadium of Light during Roy Keane’s tenure, when the Magpies were fortunate to come away with a point after James Milner’s cross inadvertantly found the net to cancel out Danny Higginbotham’s opener.

But in a pre-match press conference where the Sunderland manager seemed far more relaxed than opposite number McClaren had done 24 hours earlier, Allardyce was eager to stress that his tenure at Newcastle is now ancient history.

“I do remember it, yes,” he added.

“I remember thinking that the time before that Sunderland had won was under Peter Reid, when Bobby (Robson) was manager.

“It was the last game before a two-week international break.

“Could you have imagined that if I hadn’t got a result? It would have been a long time to ponder on the fact that we’d lost.

“But we didn’t, we drew it and we moved on.

“Now it’s making sure Sunderland win it, and that’s what the ultimate object is.

“Newcastle is nothing to do with me anymore and hasn’t been for many years.

“It’s about focusing on my players at Sunderland and saying ‘come on lads, let’s feel good today’.”