Rafa Benitez: This is why I’d be happy to lose the Tyne-Wear derby

It may not be the rallying cry fans want to hear ahead of the most important North East showdown of modern times.

And Benitez accepts a home win could give Newcastle the momentum to haul themselves clear of the relegation zone and leave Sunderland demoralised.

But the former Real Madrid coach was brought in for one reason only – to safeguard Newcastle’s top-flight status.

That, he insists, is far more important than preventing a seventh successive derby loss or avoiding defeat in his first home game in charge.

“If you can guarantee me that I lose the derby and stay up I will take that,” said Benitez.

“This is the game for the fans. It is massive and I am confident that we can win.

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