Derby Fever Put on the Back Burner
In a week dominated by Sir Alex Ferguson and the release of his controversial new book, a more deep-seated, historically controversial event has been put on the back burner – the Tyne/ Wear derby.
October 25th, 2013
Local derbies – every team has one, and every fan wants their team to triumph so they can have bragging rights over their mates. One of the most fiery and deep-seated rivalries occurs this weekend, with Newcastle making the short trip to Sunderland’s Stadium of Light to try and inflict an increasing amount of misery of Gus Poyet’s ‘gutless’ Black Cats.
It’s a real shame, and a surprise, that this match hasn’t received more coverage. Granted Ferguson’s comments were controversial, but this match isn’t without its talking points. Sunderland are languishing at the bottom of the table with one point from eight games, and their 4-0 thumping at the hands of Swansea left one journalist seething. I certainly don’t envy Gus Poyet; he’s inherited a rag-tag squad thrust together by Paolo Di Canio during preseason, and is expected to make them gel and start producing right away. No doubt he’s a talented manager, but I feel more experience was needed.
His first home game couldn’t be any tougher, either. Whilst the Man Uniteds and Arsenals of this world have the superstars, nothing quite matches the expectation and atmosphere in a Tyne/ Wear derby. If Poyet’s team don’t perform, or at least show some fight, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some Sunderland fans calling to have him sacked, two weeks into his tenure.
He also comes up against a Newcastle side who have surprised many with their solid start, despite only adding French striker Loic Remy to their ranks. Despite an opening day hammering by Manchester City and a surprise defeat to newly-promoted Hull, they have picked up points in all other games bar a 2-3 defeat to a Romelu Lukaku-inspired Everton.
I think Sunderland need to stick with their man however, as stability is what they need. In the long run, I believe Poyet will be a good manager to take them forward, even if that means dropping down this season in order to rebuild, much like they have done in the past.
Sunderland vs Newcastle isn’t the only big derby game this weekend. Yorkshire’s biggest derby, Huddersfield vs Leeds, also makes the billing; along with the South Yorkshire clash between Barnsley and neighbouring Sheffield Wednesday. It’s in the lower leagues, where foreign players are less common, I think we really see how much derby games mean to teams. After both having indifferent starts to the season, Leeds’ thumping of struggling Birmingham will give them confidence going into the West Yorkshire match against Huddersfield, who are on a run of six games without a win.
Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday are both languishing in the bottom three of the Championship, but a win for either would see them go one step further to making it out of the relegation zone.
In summary, let us not forget derbies, because they epitomise what we all love about football. Passion, desire, strength; and being able to take the mickey out of your mates.