Sir Alex Ferguson believes Sunday's clash at the Stadium of Light will be a passionate affair as the Reds chase an unlikely turnaround at the top of the Barclays Premier League table.
Victory for United and any dropped points for Manchester City at home to QPR would clinch a record 20th title for the current champions but Sunderland will be awkward opponents and Martin O'Neill has already urged his side to show the same sort of desire that lifted them away from relegation trouble earlier in the season.
"They are passionate up there," stated Sir Alex. "It's a quality for them. Newcastle and Sunderland have passionate fans. I've always recognised that, even as a young lad. There's always been passion up there and it won't be any different on Sunday."
O'Neill deserves plenty of credit for sparking an upturn in the club's fortunes after taking over from former United captain Steve Bruce at the end of last year.
"He has turned the club around," added Sir Alex. "No question about that. Steve was very unfortunate but it was a lot to do with him being from Newcastle so he never got any leeway.
"Martin came with a great CV. Every club he's been at, he's made them better. Aston Villa, Leicester, Celtic. He is an outstanding manager, no doubt about that."