Newcastle manager Steve McClaren has warned his Sunderland counterpart Sam Allardyce to stay away from the England job as they prepare to go head-to-head in the Tyne-Wear derby.
McClaren’s side will look to halt a five-game losing streak against their north-east rivals in front of a 48,000 sell-out at the Stadium of Light on Sunday.
It is the first home game in charge for new Sunderland manager Allardyce, who spent a seven-month spell as Newcastle boss before his dismissal in 2008.
In his recently-published autobiography, Allardyce claims he should have been made England manager in 2006, when McClaren was chosen to succeed Sven Goran Eriksson, heralding an unsuccessful 18 months as national boss which saw the Three Lions fail to qualify for the European Championship finals in 2008.
McClaren refused to be drawn on Allardyce’s assertion that he was the best man for the job at the time.
But the future of current manager Roy Hodgson is expected to come under scrutiny if England fail to impress at next year’s European Championship finals in France.
And, in a rare moment of warmth between representatives of Newcastle and Sunderland, McClaren advised Allardyce to steer clear of a job that has proved to be a poisoned chalice down the years.
Allardyce still harbours ambitions of leading his country, but McClaren said: “I’m sure when the England job becomes available next, Sam will be put forward for it.
“I don’t think he is especially concentrating on that, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend to actually do it. That’s just a personal opinion.
“Whether he has the credentials to be a future England manager, I wouldn’t like to comment. Sam’s a great club manager as he’s proved wherever he’s gone. I think he’ll do a good job at Sunderland.”
– Under pressure –
The pair meet for the 13th time as managers – the sequence is level at four wins each with four draws – as Sunderland, bottom of the table, look for a first victory of the season in the Premier League from a derby rivalry which stretches back to the first senior meeting between the clubs in 1898.
The Black Cats have not tasted defeat in this fixture in the last seven outings stretching for more than four years, and a win would put them level on points with their neighbours, who climbed to 18th thanks to a resounding 6-2 win over Norwich, their first three-point haul of the campaign, last week.
McClaren, who is likely to name an unchanged line-up, added: “We know the importance of this fixture to the fans, but we won’t approach it any differently than we have any other game this season.
“Why should we put any more importance on this game than any other?
“We’ve tried to make it as normal a week as possible and prepare as diligently as we would for any game.”
Sunderland welcome back defender Sebastian Coates and midfielder Jeremain Lens from suspension as they go in search of a first Premier League victory for more than five months.
Allardyce, who becomes the first man to have taken charge of both sides in a Wear-Tyne derby, admits he is under pressure to ensure Sunderland’s impressive winning run in this fixture continues.
Neither club has enjoyed six successive victories over the other in 117 years and Allardyce said: “I’ve got to keep the record going. It’s a fantastic record, and whenever this game has come around recently, Sunderland have produced a performance.
“We were unlucky to lose my first game in charge last week, but it’s up to me to try to impose a winning mentality on the whole football club, not just the players, but the staff behind them.”