ALAN Pardew admitted his midfield ‘icons’ had faltered against Wolves – before predicting they would regain their bite against the Black Cats this weekend.
Pardew fast-tracked Cheick Tioté and Yohan Cabaye back into this starting line-up on Saturday but neither looked at their best as Newcastle struggled to wrestle the midfield initiative from a determined Wolves.
The visitors’ five-man midfield caused real problems for Newcastle throughout, and Pardew admitted that they perhaps needed to get 90 minutes under their belts to reacquaint themselves with life in the Premeir League.
Tioté, in particular, seemed to be suffering for this exertions with the Ivory Coast last month.
“You’ve got to understand that this is the Premier League, it’s a different level than the African Cup of Nations for Cheick, and Cabaye has been out for three weeks,” Pardew said. “They will be better for this. We need them.
“They are top players, we know that. They have been brilliant against three midfield players in the past, but today they got bossed a bit.”
Following a strange afternoon, Pardew spared his players a public dressing down for the way they surrendered the initiative against a Wolves side fighting relegation from the Premier League.
He felt that Newcastle’s caution after taking such a commanding lead was partially down to the fact they had been so thoroughly routed at Tottenham last time out.
“I’m not angry,” he said. “I just felt that on the balance of play we didn’t deserve to win. We needed to step up to win the game and we never looked like it (on Saturday).
“I am disappointed in terms of throwing that away. I think there was a bit of after-effects from the Spurs game. I would have liked our two full-backs to have joined in a bit more when they were in their own half.
“They are things we can adjust this week. We were bombing forward at Spurs, leaving ourselves exposed and probably did the opposite (on Saturday).”
United will assess injuries suffered by first-choice strikers Papiss Demba Cissé and Demba Ba but Pardew believes both should be fit for the Tyne-Wear derby.
He also reflected on an enigmatic cameo from Hatem Ben Arfa. “Sometimes we know he can do things other players can’t do, he’s just got to learn when to do it in the right areas,” he said.