St James’ Park will be no place for the faint-hearted in a match neither of these bitter rivals dare lose.
It’s been labelled the biggest derby in recent history, with Sunderland bidding for a seventh successive win in the fixture and Newcastle desperate to launch their new manager’s reign with a win on home soil.
“It will be loud, raucous and nervy,” said McDermott. “But the one man who’ll rise above the frenzy is Rafa. He’s Mr Cool in situations like this.
“There hasn’t been a more important derby for years but Rafa won’t be fazed.
“This is a man who’s been involved in Champions League finals, El Classico and title deciders.