Speaking to the Journal following the release of the fixtures, Big Sam was inevitably quizzed about the return of the derby match with the mackems following their promotion to the top flight. Revealing that he tried to sign Roy Keane, he said:
“I’m aware of what the Sunderland-Newcastle game means to the region. The Middlesbrough one is earlier, which is another local derby, but it’s not as close. When we get to that fixture we need to make sure we’ve already had a very good start to the season. We don’t want to be under any more pressure than we will be anyway to win a local derby.
The fans will expect it will be a victory because they’re our local rivals, but it doesn’t always work out like that. The players will know what sort of pressure they will be under in that game. Nobody wants to be on the losing side in a local derby. It will be good to see Niall Quinn, knowing him as well as I do.
Obviously I also know Roy Keane, I tried to sign him when he went to Celtic after leaving Manchester United, but I’ve not spoken to him since I came up here. I’ve not had the opportunity to speak to him because my time is not spent talking to other managers at the moment. He’ll be more than welcome for a cup of tea, it will be nice to see him. Our paths will cross somewhere down the line.’
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