With the first win of the season safely banked, all the focus is now on the derby game.
This leads to many of the usual angles that go with this match – great memories, special goals, big characters, plus certain irrelevant things such as who has won the derbies recently…
With each passing year there is also another facet that gets increasing exposure – do the foreign players understand what the Newcastle v Sunderland derby games mean?
This is a subject almost exclusively driven by the media, though some of the more gullible supporters are dragged along by it as well.
This might have been a subject worth looking at when players from abroad were a rarity in most teams, but after so many years to look back at, surely the answer is self-explanatory.
Shock horror, it isn’t the nationality of a player that determines if he can deal with a derby match, it is the character.
The likes of Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote weren’t shy of getting stuck in, in recent seasons, whilst I could give you any number of British players who couldn’t handle games against the mackems.
Already this week I have seen the likes of Gini Wijnaldum (see below) and Aleksandar Mitrovic asked about the north east derby and whether they understand how important it is.
Where do they think these players have come from?
Wijnaldum was at Feyenoord and anybody who was there when Newcastle played in the Champions League will tell you how mad the atmosphere was that night, plus more than a little dodgy outside the ground.
Mitrovic learnt his trade in Serbia where they are hardly shy about showing their passion in the football arena.
Whilst both he and Chancel Mbemba have experience of Anderlecht and amongst the top clubs in Belgium there is intense rivalry. In both Holland and Belgium, just like in England, they are used to significant away followings helped by the short disances between the big cities.
Even Florian Thauvin has experienced life at Marseille and their passionate fanbase, once again Newcastle supporters having seen for themselves when United faced them in the UEFA Cup.
Once again, it is about the individuals, not their nationality.
Last season, no doubt the same questions were asked of Emmanuel Riviere and Remy Cabella but the difference with them is that from what we have seen so far, they don’t have the talent and/or the character to do it in big (any?) games.
This isn’t though because of where they are born, just them as individual players.
When Mitrovic, Wijnaldum and Mbemba line up against Sunderland, it won’t be them that I will be worrying about.
“I will enjoy the moment (after Norwich) and then I will focus on Sunderland.
“It’s not normal to score four goals in a game, these are special moments in your career, I will work hard because I start on zero (against Sunderland) and I will look to create chances and goals.”
Waking down the street:
“When I walk down the street or go into the supermarket, Newcastle fans talk with me, they talk about this game against Sunderland – I have already seen how much impact this game has for supporters.
“I see what they want from the players and we must try to win this game.”
(John is just one of our ever expanding team of regular/irregular writers, send in your original articles for our website to [email protected] and share them with the world – all views are the author’s own etc etc)