Playful Advocaat savours derby win
Dick Advocaat was in mischievous mood after seeing Jermain Defoe ease the pressure on Sunderland with a stunning winner to condemn Newcastle to a fifth successive derby defeat.
The former Tottenham striker smashed home a sumptuous volley in first-half injury-time to settle a game the Black Cats, who started the day perched precariously above the Barclays Premier League drop zone, dominated to ease themselves three points clear of the chasing pack.
Defoe's effort, which prompted a half-time congratulations from Magpies keeper Tim Krul in the tunnel, provided a moment of exquisite quality for the home fans to celebrate along with a much-needed 1-0 win, but the club's new head coach was not unduly impressed.
Advocaat said with a smile: "It was an easy goal, an easy shot. He gets paid for that."
He added: "It was not only a fantastic goal - it was an important one, but the way the team played must give them a boost. Not only did they work their socks off to get a good result, but also football-wise it was much better than last week.
"Only at the end, Newcastle took all the risk and with the long balls, we had a little bit of a problem, but until the 75th minute, we were the team that dominated the game, controlled the game. But we had to score more goals, that was the only problem."
Sunderland had bossed the first half and although Newcastle were better after the break, rarely looked like surrendering the lead they took in stunning fashion seconds before referee Mike Dean was due to blow the half-time whistle.
Costel Pantilimon's deep free-kick was headed down by Steven Fletcher and Defoe, who had anticipated perfectly, lashed an unstoppable volley past the helpless Krul and into the top corner.
It was a goal worthy of winning any game and ultimately it did just that as the home side spurned a series of opportunities to cement victory while Ayoze Perez might have snatched a point his side did not deserve with a late close-range volley.
Asked if he was confident he would keep the Black Cats up after steering them into 15th place, Advocaat said: "Hopefully on May 24, we are still there because that's the most important thing. This helps.
"I always have said we will survive, but this is just the first game. But we had to win today because there was a lot of pressure on the team."
The emotions were markedly different in the Tyneside camp with Newcastle head coach John Carver admitting some of his players had not handled the derby pressure.
He said: "Well, possibly yes, possibly. Let's be honest about it, because five in a row is a long run, isn't it? Let's be honest. Maybe one or two people can't handle it. I'm not going to go into names - I'll leave that to you guys to decide - but it's a fact, yes.
"I am sitting here - do you think I'm embarrassed? I am absolutely embarrassed, yes I am. I am embarrassed to be part of it, yes, but I am a part of it and I have to deal with it."
Newcastle have lost their last four games and have won on two of the 13 they have played in all competitions under Carver, and the 50-year-old admits their own top-flight status is far from secure.
He said: "We have only got 35 points - you need 40 points. We have got seven games left.
"You are down to the bare bones, you are thinking, 'Where's the next point coming from?'. Let's be honest - and I'm an honest guy - I am thinking that way. But by hook or by crook, we have to turn this around somehow."