ALAN Pardew has taken a swipe at Sunderland’s reaction to wrestling Tyne-Wear bragging rights from his Newcastle side – after boldly predicting a reaction from his wounded troops at The Hawthorns today.
The United boss has largely kept his counsel since the 3-0 defeat to Sunderland but called for “perspective” after what he branded “heavy-handed” criticism of the team’s performance in the derby game.
While accepting that he would have to take the criticism on the chin, he again offered up the team’s exertions in the Europa League as the most pressing mitigation for last weekend’s flat showing.
When quizzed about Paolo Di Canio’s animated reaction to winning the game, his reaction was gentle mockery of their regional rivals.
Framing the loss in the context of Newcastle’s exploits on the Continent, he said that Sunderland could only “dream” of making the last eight of a European competition.
“It was a great day for Sunderland and for us a tough day. I would rather play and give it a good go in the quarter-final of the Europa League and they can only dream of that,” he said.
“So next year there is always another game. In these games and in your managerial career there are these setbacks, they are not nice.
“Man Utd got beat 6-1 once and got beat the other day but they have still won the league. For us it is done, it is history and we have to always carry it. We have to carry it like they have to with all the defeats we have inflicted on them.”
Pardew cut a frustrated figure on the eve of a vital game against West Brom – clearly unhappy with some of the coverage of the derby defeat but saying that his coaching team would not “react” to some of the criticism.
His issue seemed to be with the specific assessment of their performance on Sunday rather than some of the wider critiques of a season which has seen United pick up the second lowest points total of any team in the Premier League on their travels.
Another festering issue is the team’s disappointing return for dead balls and Pardew admitted that both criticisms had some foundation. However, injuries and the demands of European football were common themes yesterday.
Of the dead ball problems, Pardew said that it would be addressed with recruitment. Dropping a significant hint that Andy Carroll (pictured left) is again on the United radar, he said: “That’s something I’ll definitely look at in the summer, 100%.
“In terms of the group, when you take Williamson and Taylor out of it, we haven’t got a dominant header after those two. And I think we need to add to that in the summer. And we will.
“It’s a personnel thing, a little bit, because we’re coming up against Premier League sides with 6ft 4in players and we’re finding it difficult to get that second or third header of the all, which usually gets you the goal. The two big ones usually take care of each other. That’s an area we’re going to focus on in the summer.”
There was also an acknowledgment that their woeful away record needs to be addressed. He said: “We’ve not picked up points away from home when we should have.
“That’s something we need to improve before the end of the last season. Three of our last five matches are away.” United will be without Sylvain Marveaux and Cheick Tiote for the West Brom game – while Pardew said Hatem Ben Arfa was not ready to start.
Fabricio Coloccini – such a fleeting presence for United since his New Year declaration that he wants to leave – could return for the Liverpool game.
“We hope that will come next week – it will be a big boost to have our captain back,” Pardew said.