Alan Pardew knows that derbies can make or break Newcastle United and Sunderland managers. Two years ago, Newcastle's 1-0 victory on Wearside helped spell the beginning of the end for Steve Bruce at the Stadium of Light.

"I remember Steve saying 'you have just killed the next six weeks for me'," Pardew said. "At the time I did not know what he meant. But I do now."

After Sunderland's 3-0 win at St James' Park in April, Paolo Di Canio, the then visiting manager, celebrated with a knee-slide.

Asked if he would emulate the Italian should Newcastle defeat Gus Poyet's side on Sunday, thereby leaving Sunderland with only one point from nine games, Pardew demurred. "No, not with my suits, they are very expensive," he said, smiling, before subsequently recognising that his 52-year-old knees are no longer up to such exertions.

He and Poyet, taking charge of his first home game, could be forgiven for turning up in full battle dress and tin helmets. "The north-east derby is tough for the managers because, if you have not performed well, there's a big fallout," said Pardew. "If you do well though there's adulation, perhaps beyond the merits of the performance, and that tide of optimism can carry you. That's what we're looking for.

"I think in this particular fixture it's very important to have a calm mind as the manager because it's a real frenzy on the pitch and can get really heated. So it's very important to keep yourself together because the substitutes can make a big difference.

"It has a special atmosphere and a special electricity. It's right up there with Rangers v Celtic and the Manchester derbies. As a manager I've never experienced the intensity of the atmosphere this particular fixture produces. And, on Sunday, there's a lot riding on this game. Particularly after the last derby."

He had forgiven Di Canio, dismissed last month, sufficiently to plan to ask him and Tony Mowbray, sacked by Middlesbrough last week, to join him for a Christmas meal out. "My Christmas plans are all falling apart because I was going to invite them, said Pardew. "We're only in October, it's astonishing really, the north east is a difficult environment in which to be a manager. But that last derby will always be Paolo's."

As a Chelsea and Spurs player Poyet had such an uncanny knack of scoring vital goals against Newcastle that Sir Bobby Robson once variously dubbed him "a menace" and "the scourge of Newcastle".

"I wasn't aware of that," said Pardew whose relief that the Uruguayan will be in the dugout rather than on the pitch may be tempered by the two recent FA Cup defeats inflicted on Newcastle by Poyet's Brighton side.