Taylor, a Geordie who came through
The centre-back, who has recovered from injury in time to make Sunday’s trip to the Stadium of Light, is always assured of a particularly unpleasant welcome from Sunderland fans because of his strong Newcastle ties, yet he revels in the animosity.
Although the 26 year-old meant much of what he said as a joke to wind up Sunderland’s supporters, it is likely to have a similar effect on Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill and his players, who are desperate to beat their neighbours having won just one of their past 15 clashes.
“We have said it all the time, we wouldn’t take any of their players,” said Taylor. “Even last year the gaffer said it, he has our team above Sunderland. Not even one player, not even one player on their bench, would get into our starting XI. That is the quality we possess.”
When asked whether England international Adam Johnson might be an exception following his £10 million move from Manchester City in the summer, Taylor added with a grin: “Adam Johnson is a very good player.
"I played with him for England Under-21s and he is very attack minded. He knows all about this game being from Middlesbrough. He can come and play in our reserves if he wants to.”
Taylor did concede Newcastle would have to watch striker Steven Fletcher “closely” as he is a “good player”, but he was far more interested in knocking Sunderland than being diplomatic.
“I would rather go and collect stamps than stick on that shirt,” he added. “I haven’t got any friends who are Sunderland fans. As for the players, I’m friendly with one or two of them from the under-21s, but that was before they signed for Sunderland.”
Sunderland’s only win over Newcastle since they moved into the Stadium of Light came in 2008 courtesy of a Kieran Richardson free-kick, which secured a 2-1 win under Roy Keane, and Taylor believes that poor record always plays on their mind.
“There is definitely more pressure on them, particularly with the performance they had at home last year [Sunderland lost 1-0]. They didn’t do particularly well. I think we can get in among them. We have players who can hurt them. The attacking options we have can hurt any side. I think our quality will shine through.”
Pardew is unlikely to be happy with Taylor’s comments on the eve of a potentially pivotal game, even if they were meant in jest, yet the player appears to relish the extra abuse he will receive.
“Is it the most passionate derby in the country? Put it this way, when I am warming up their fans have their veins popping out of their necks.
"It is like I have done something to their family or something. Even when I was just starting out I have always enjoyed that hostility. Getting abuse off their fans, it doesn’t bother me that much. I like that sort of thing. It won’t upset me one bit.
“I’m really excited. Before the game against Manchester United everyone was talking about that one. But I was only thinking about the Sunderland game. I am nervous, and I will be until I get into the tunnel, then I can’t wait to get on the pitch.”
As a local lad raised on the ferocity of the rivalry between the two cities, Taylor will always see it as the most important game of the season and he is delighted Newcastle’s foreign players agree with him.
“Last season we did need to explain what it was all about,” he said. “This year it doesn’t need introducing to anyone. All people are worried about this year is if they have any niggles.
“The foreign lads have bought into everything. I was a bit nervous last year because I didn’t know if they would adjust to it. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell someone it is a big game, it is only when they step out on the pitch that they realise it is as hostile.
“After seeing the Senegal versus Ivory Coast game it could well be as heated as that... but without the flying rocks, tear gas and fires!
“You can’t understand what it means until you have played in one of them. It is not just a match. It is when you walk around the city and go to a restaurant, it is all people talk to you about.” And Taylor knows it is all they will talk to them about if Newcastle lose.
“I played in the defeat when Richardson scored the free-kick. If you lose that game it affects the team, all the players, the whole of the city. It is difficult to forget about it. You can’t go to your local Waitrose. You are constantly reminded of it. The fans hate it if you lose.”