Sunderland – Sunderland’s 3-0 hammering of 10-man Newcastle United moved them above their bitter rivals in the Premier League, but the result failed to alter new manager Sam Allardyce’s opinion about the size of his task.
Goals from Adam Johnson, Billy Jones and Steven Fletcher eventually separated the two teams at the Stadium of Light, but Allardyce is experienced enough to know they were embarrassingly outclassed by Newcastle until the game was changed by a decision from referee Robert Madley in the dying moments of the first half.
Madley awarded a penalty and sent off Fabricio Coloccini after the Newcastle captain barged into Fletcher as the striker tried to reach a through ball that was almost in the grasp of goalkeeper Rob Elliot.
Allardyce, who became the fourth successive Sunderland manager to win this derby in his second game in charge, said: “We still have a lot of work to do because we have to be a lot better than we were today if we are going to get out of trouble.
“There is a long way to go and I am going to be pushing them to do better than this performance.”
Newcastle manager Steve McClaren was furious with Madley’s dubious call.
“The decision was wrong and unbelievable. Refs are part and parcel of the game who can affect the result and he has done that today,” he said.
“I’ve seen lot of challenges like that in every game and they are never given. It was a double whammy — a penalty and down to 10 men.
“We had totally dominated. It was a perfect performance in the first half until the goal. We got the crowd irritated, there were no chances against us and we created opportunities.”
Allardyce had some sympathy for his counterpart, adding: “We were a little fortunate with the first goal, but you get these things in football and you have to take full advantage.
“We managed to do that today and won comfortably in the end.
“I did think it was a foul. If he hadn’t made contact, I think Steven would have scored with his left foot.
“It was a bit harsh to send him off, but that’s the rule and we took full advantage.
“We got a harsh decision against us at West Brom last week and this one went for us.”
Reduced to 10 men and with Cheick Tiote sacrificed to send on another defender in Jamaal Lascelles, Newcastle still created chances before Jones and Fletcher extended their lead.
Jones poked the ball in from close range after Yann M’Vila volleyed a corner back into the danger area, while Fletcher swept in Younes Kaboul’s cross four minutes from the end to finally condemn Newcastle to their sixth successive defeat in this fixture.
“Three-nil flatters them,” said under pressure McClaren, whose optimism about his future at Newcastle will not be affected by this setback.
“We looked a good team even with 10 men,” he said.
“If we keep going like that and get over this disappointment, we will win games.”