Pardew calls for calm over derby
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.
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.
"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," he said. "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."
He added: "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."
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.
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.
"There is a little bit of passion flying about and it needs to be conducted in the right manner by players and staff alike," he said. "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."
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.
"I have to say, it is the strongest Sunderland side I have faced since I have been manager," Pardew said. "They certainly have a few players who could get in our team, outstanding individuals, Fletcher probably being the pick of them at the minute."