With just over a week to go before Newcastle and Sunderland fans get their chance to experience possibly the biggest derby ever, the stakes were already as high as they could possibly be.
With the way the fixtures have worked out (Sunderland a point ahead and no game until the derby, Newcastle playing Leicester beforehand), if either side win the game on Sunday 20 March then they would be guaranteed to be ahead of their local rival with eight games each to go.
Fair to say that with Steve McClaren hanging like a millstone around the necks of Newcastle supporters, the mood was most definitely defiant, rather than hopeful.
The dramatic sacking of McClaren and recruitment of Rafa Benitez has instantly though transformed the mood, if not the points total yet, on Tyneside.
United fans ecstatic at both the removal of the failing Wally and especially the fact that a more than credible replacement has agreed to take the job.
What though is the mood on Wearside?
Do Sunderland fans think that the appointment of Rafa Benitez is a game changer?
We searched out the reaction of those Sunderland fans via one of their top message boards Ready To Go:
‘He will organise them. Something McClaren failed with massively in his 28 games.
Whether that makes them better defensively or more of a threat up front I don’t know, but they won’t be a total pushover anymore.’
‘Didn’t he get Liverpool to adopt zonal marking when defending set pieces? Everyone kicked up a fuss every time they conceded a goal but the stats were they were the best in the league?’
‘Steven Taylor doesn’t even know where the f***ing goalposts are man. Can you imagine him trying to mark a specific zone.’
‘He will improve them. They will pick up more points than they would have. We still have the advantage of knowing that as long as we pick up at least the same amount of points as them and Norwich, we are safe.’
‘From Real Madrid to the Mags in the space of a couple of months – I honestly can’t remember a bigger come down in football management terms like.’
‘Plays 2 deep Central Midfielders in front of a back four with the intention of not conceding. Not in keeping with the entertainers reputation.’
‘I think it’s a fantastic appointment for them to be honest.’
‘A complete charlatan and an utter tart. This is going to be class.’
‘Good move in my opinion as he hasn’t got a clue about working in this sort of situation. I honestly thought Pearson would’ve got more out of that squad bearing in mind where they are right now but fat mike thinks otherwise.’
‘Newcastle fans moan about Mike Ashley but he’s allegedly balanced the books, gave McClaren around £80m to spend on players and now appointed arguably the most qualified manager in their history.’
‘You can guarantee the knackers start turning up in sombreros.’
‘Champions league in 18 months according to Twitter. Not half as good a manager as people make out.’
‘Legendary! The delusion lives on, Barcelona of the North.’
‘I’m really surprised he’s taken that job, I thought he could do better. I think they should stay up now as he will sort them out defensively.’
‘Would you take Allardyce over Ferguson or Mourinho because he’s more experienced in relegation battles?’
‘Was looking forward to the mags getting on the players backs at the Derby but they’ll be in good spirits now.’
‘Since leaving Valencia in 2004, he has managed Liverpool, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Napoli and Real Madrid. He left each club lower in the league than when he arrived with the exception of Chelsea who were 3rd when he arrived and 3rd when he left. A similar record at the mags will guarantee relegation.’
‘Phenomenally good appointment for them in my opinion. If they stay up then will his being there alone be a big draw for players?’
‘Don’t give a f*** what clubs he’s managed. His defensive options consist of Coco the Clown, Paul Dummett, Big Stevie Taylor, the marauding Janmaat, Lascelles, Mbabu, etc. Good luck Rafa.’
‘It all hinges on if he keeps them up really, if they down he will either leave or they will turn sh*t.
If they stay up he’ll probably build a good squad for them.’