A LUCKY break was all that was missing from Newcastle’s repertoire, manager Alan Pardew claimed, after his side were held to a goalless draw at St James’ Park by Swansea.
United had the bulk of both possession and territory but were unable to translate that into goals during a frustrating 90 minutes. A combination of the woodwork and the brilliance of Swansea keeper Michel Vorm were responsible for Newcastle only bagging a point instead of three and on another day they might well have got the victory their dominance deserved.
But the breaks didn’t go their way in the final third of the pitch and for Pardew (pictured left), the lucky deflection or a fortunate ricochet was the thing that his men were lacking.
He said: “Sometime you just need a break. We put balls across and hit a post.
“Swansea have a good work ethic, a good spirit and they slowed the game and made it difficult for us. Outside of their nice play, they had all the tricks in the book (to frustrate the opposition) – don’t you worry about that.
“Had we scored in the first half, it would’ve been a very different game. I think (Swansea boss) Brendan
(Rodgers) will be pleased to get a draw here.” Newcastle, though, have now not won since Bonfire Night and while there may be those who believe United’s bubble has burst, Pardew is not concerned with what those outside of St James’ Park think.
He added: “I’ve no problem with that. Just go to the next game and see what we do then.
“Yes, we want to win. We want the possibility of the top six.
“Don’t make me think I am happy with the draw.
“As a professional looking at my side, I was quite pleased with a lot of things apart from the result.” Meanwhile, flamboyant playmaker Hatem Ben Arfa was again left on the bench and was once more left kicking his heels on the bench as an unused substitute.
Speculation has been rife of a possible fall-out between player and management but Pardew insists it is merely a case of others being ahead in the pecking order with Ben Arfa having to be patient.
He continued: “Hatem is hungry and ready. Hopefully he is hungry when his chance comes. As to when that will come, I don’t know.”
That chance might come as early as Wednesday against West Bromwich Albion as influential midfielder, Yohan Cabaye, picked up a second half yellow card which means he is suspended for that game.
The decision irked Pardew in particular given that referee Lee Mason had been very lenient with Swansea over a number of fouls committed by the Welsh side in the first half.
Pardew said: “It just felt that perhaps the timing of the tackle was the wrong time. Had he done it in the first half, he wouldn’t have been booked. People were getting away with everything then.
“They had 12 fouls on the trot but not one booking. Poor old Yohan is frustrated and we are frustrated but looking at the bigger picture we look a lot more like ourselves today. That is good for myself and my team.” Saturday also hailed the return of Cheick Tiote after a lengthy spell in the treatment room and Pardew was delighted to have his midfield engine back – even though the decision to play him came late in the day.
He continued: “Cheick has been out for four weeks and trained two days. Obviously we’ve done some work in the gym with him – but it was touch and go whether he was going to start.
“He’s come through that. When he went down at the end there, we all held our breath. I certainly did. He just had cramp.
“The impact of his name on the team-sheet for us and them was going to be significant. Outside of his first couple of touches, he was terrific.”