FURIOUS Alan Pardew was left counting the cost of “bad decisions” and an “awful challenge” as Newcastle United suffered more serious injuries and a blow in their mission to preserve Premier League status.
United lost three points and two full-backs on a day of high controversy in their least favourite part of Lancashire.
Having already seen Mathieu Debuchy depart with a hamstring injury that throws his participation in the critical final weeks of the season into doubt, the Magpies were left reeling after Callum McManaman scythed Massaido Haidara down with a scandalously high right-footed challenge.
McManaman should have seen a straight red but referee Mark Halsey demurred from punishing what Pardew called an “awful challenge”.
The Newcastle boss said that it affected the players and the flow of the match, and confirmed knee ligament damage that is likely to rule the France under-21 defender out for the rest of the season.
Taking to Twitter, former Wigan player Ryan Taylor condemned the challenge as a “sh*thouse tackle” – an unguarded comment that was probably closer to the thinking of Newcastle’s players than the more measured response they delivered after the game.
United’s woes were compounded by conceding a controversial injury-time goal that seemed to arrive in Arouna Kone’s path via a Maynor Figueroa hand ball. Reacting to McManaman’s tackle, Pardew said: “It’s an awful challenge. The pictures speak for themselves.
“I thought it was a bad challenge straight away, and I was 60 yards away from the incident. We all thought it was a bad challenge, and when it filtered through that it was as bad as it was, it just made things worse.
“The players knew how bad it was because they were on top of it. There was a lot of bad feeling about it, especially when it goes unpunished.”
The poor calls created an uneasy atmosphere that was heightened just before half-time when a raging John Carver seemed to try and confront McManaman, leading to an unseemly scuffle that saw him and Wigan assistant boss Graham Barrow sent to the stands. Pardew was similarly frustrated.
“My job at half-time was to try to calm the players down, not look for retribution, and try to go out and win the second half. To all intents and purposes, I thought we did that,” he said. “But decisions have gone against us again at the end.
“We should have had a corner at one end, then the ball goes up the other end and we clearly should have had a handball. It’s tough to take.
“The linesman was looking right at it and the referee was there. All our players reacted to the handball and, in that split second, we didn’t clear the ball. That was just our reaction to the handball, and that’s what happens when the officials miss a decision as bad as that.”
The McManaman incident appeared to unsettle the team and Pardew agreed that it had an affect.
“The players get affected by something like that. When it goes unpunished, it doubles the impact on the mentality of the players. It had an impact on us and you can’t get away from that,” he said. United deliberately stayed away from condemning Halsey’s poor performance.
However, Pardew revealed that the referee had offered a conditional apology.
“I spoke to the referee at half-time, and he said, ‘If I’ve missed it, I apologise’,” Pardew said.
United’s misfortune is mirrored by France’s. Both have lost Debuchy, who has strained a hamstring, and Yohan Cabaye is also likely to miss their qualifiers against Georgia and Spain.
“We’ll send him (Debuchy) to France for them to assess him. We don’t think it’s a particularly bad tear, but it’s definitely a strain,” Pardew said.
On Haidara, he said there would be an assessment after his swelling had subsided.
“The doctor assessed Massadio quickly before he was scuttled away, and he will be properly assessed later. It looks like knee ligament damage and bad bruising. To be honest, that’s the best we can hope for really.”