Belfast Telegraph

O'Neill calls for big performance

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill has warned his players they may need to turn in their best performance of his reign if they are to end their 12-year wait for a win at Newcastle.

The Black Cats have not made the short trip back from Tyneside with three points since the day in November 2000 when Niall Quinn's header and Thomas Sorensen's late penalty save from Alan Shearer sparked mass celebrations on Wearside.

With the club suffering a humiliating 5-1 defeat on their last visit, O'Neill is eager for revenge and said: "From our own perspective, we have to play strongly in the game, otherwise the consequences are there. We will do our best, anyway. We need to do better than our best, really."

Sunday's game will be O'Neill's first taste of the Tyne-Wear encounter, but by no means his first derby having arrived in the north-east as a veteran of a series of Old Firm showdowns with former club Celtic.

However, he is well aware of the magnitude of a game which is talked about for months in advance and sometimes, even longer afterwards.

He said: "This is a massively big game. You have to look forward to it if you can.

"Historically speaking, it's been as a good a derby game as there is. It's a game where you obviously want to do well - there are only two bites at it during the course of the season.

"Our record doesn't seem to be that brilliant, so we have to try to improve that if we can."

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