Rafa Benitez urges Newcastle’s players to forget the past ahead of Premier League clash with Sunderland

Rafa Benitez has told his players to forget Newcastle’s recent record in the Tyne-Wear derby, ahead of the crunch Premier League game against Sunderland.

The Black Cats have dominated the North Eastern rivalry in the last few years, winning each of the last six games.

Alan Pardew, John Carver and Steve McClaren all tasted defeat whilst in charge of the Magpies, and Benitez will be hoping he can turn around this record in just his second game in charge.

There is a worry that the Newcastle players will go into the game expecting defeat due to the recent record, but the Spanish coach has told his players that they cannot be thinking about the past.

Benitez said: “When you have a derby, anything can happen – every game, every season, every manager, new players, so everything changes and hopefully we can change also the result and the score will be good for us.

“But you cannot be thinking about what happened in the past, you have to concentrate on what you will do on the pitch and what will happen in the future. It’s really good if you can win, and we will try to think about that and nothing else.”

A win for Newcastle will take them two points above their local rivals, and out of the bottom three, with a game in hand over all the other sides fighting relegation.

The derby clash is a real six-pointer, and Benitez is well aware that the game is one of the most important in the Magpies’ season.

The 55-year-old added: “We know that every game is really, really important and especially this one because it’s a derby and the situation in the table for both teams, so we know we have to get these three points to keep the positive mood that we have at the moment.”

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