Sam Allardyce hopes his experience of Premier League survival fights will help Sunderland but accepts it is the players that will decide the club’s fate.
The Black Cats are bottom ahead of Sunday’s showdown, after Newcastle’s defeat of Norwich on Sunday.
Allardyce suffered defeat in his first game in charge after a Costel Pantilimon error handed Saido Berahino the winner in West Brom’s 1-0 victory at The Hawthorns on Saturday.
The 60-year-old spent seven months as Newcastle manager in 2007-08 and returned to the north-east to answer Sunderland’s SOS after Dick Advocaat’s resignation.
Sunderland have won the last five derbies with the Magpies – including three when they have just changed managers – and Allardyce does not want to break the cycle.
He said: “I’ve got to make sure I keep the reputation of Sunderland up here.
“The pressure’s on me more than on Steve because we’ve won the last five so I don’t want to be the one that doesn’t win one. And particularly with managing both clubs. We’ll wait and see, only the players can make me smile next week when we play them.”
Berahino tapped in on Saturday to ruin Allardyce’s return after Pantilmon dropped a cross under pressure from the striker, with the Black Cats boss insisting his goalkeeper was fouled.
Despite being pleased with their performance, Sunderland are still winless in the Premier League and Allardyce believes the players must take his ideas on board.
He said: “Hopefully with my experience at managing at his level and knowing what it takes to get out of this position, there’s only me to guide them and them to do it. I can only guide them, they’re the ones who have to do it.”
Berahino scored his third goal of the season since vowing he would never play for the club again after they turned down four bids from Tottenham in the summer.
It helped Albion to move seven points clear of the relegation zone and keeper Boaz Myhill believes the 22-year-old has to repay boss Tony Pulis.
He said: “I’d say Saido owes the manager a big debt, he has gone a long way to paying him back.
“He is good young player and that’s why big teams are interested in him. It’s a learning curve for someone his age to have that attention and people from the outside will be looking and saying ‘he should be doing this, he gets paid to play for a big team’. “But footballers are human beings and not robots.”
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