Steve McClaren is desperately trying to take the heat and the importance out of Sunday’s derby, you would hate to think what lengths he would have gone to if that win against Norwich hadn’t come.
The truth is though that this is such a must must win game and not just because Sunderland are the opposition.
Norwich was a result and performance to be savoured afterwards, though if you later watched it again after recording it, you might have wanted to have your finger hovering over the fast forward button.
It will look great as a five minutes highlights package but for McClaren and his coaches they must have been tearing their hair out (though unfortunately not that annoying little tuft that our Head Coach has at the front…) when reviewing the defensive side of things in the aftermath.
The forward play was exhilarating to watch and the finishing sublime, no wonder when you have a midfield finisher of the quality of Wijnaldum ghosting into the box – you would hate to think just how many he would score playing for the likes of Manchester City or Arsenal.
You feel that momentum is going to be everything for the Newcastle team this season, they don’t really strike you as a starting eleven who are going to be up and down on a week to week basis. More that they are going to go on waves of form and put together sets of performances/results, good and bad.
With the defending looking as bad as ever, Newcastle have to approach every game on the front foot and look to attack their way to safety and beyond.
Beat Sunderland, potentially lifted out of the relegation zone and maybe never look back.
Alternatively, sit back and be cautious, invite the mackems on and give them confidence and the first goal, then try to start playing and chaos/mayhem/disaster will ensue. Confidence and momentum popped like an over-inflated balloon and 10 games into the season potentially bottom once more and having to do all again.
The timing of this derby and the circumstances surrounding the match, means this isn’t just another game as Steve McClaren would kid all Newcastle fans.
Winning is everything on Sunday.