FOR the first time this season, Alan Pardew has had to deal with a Newcastle United defeat, and the Magpies manager admits he is unsure how he to respond this evening.
The problem is made more complicated because tonight’s game is at Stoke City.
With a direct playing style which is a throwback to Pardew’s playing days and a narrow pitch tailored to it, the Potters are perhaps the Premier League’s most awkward customers on their own patch. Many teams change formation to combat Stoke’s long throws and even longer balls, but having done that last season without success, Pardew’s alterations are more likely to centre on personnel after bowing out of the League Cup in extra-time to Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday.
“I don’t really know how they’ll react to defeat because that (winning Gaël Givet) goal came so late and even then we had a good chance with 20 seconds left through Colo (Fabricio Coloccini).
“There’s obviously a resilience in this team, that’s a given and we take that to Stoke. We don’t want to get beaten in the league so we’ll be fighting for our lives again. It’s just about getting my head around Stoke. It’s a different type of game, the pitch is narrow, the grass is long and they put you under enormous pressure.
“We had a terrible day there last year, I had to take some fault – I set the team up to combat their style rather than focus on our own.
“It’s on the back of a defeat – and I can’t say it was a disappointing defeat, because there are things that went very, very right in the game.”
One consequence of Wednesday’s loss is that some of the younger members of Newcastle’s squad will go out on loan. “At the minute we have an undercurrent of young players here that are outstanding,” commented the manager. “Now we’re out of that cup, one or two will be going out on loan and I think they’ll do very, very well.”
James Tavernier (Carlisle United), Jeff Henderson (Gateshead), Ryan Donaldson (Tranmere Rovers), Phil Airey (Hibernian), Fraser Forster (Celtic) and Kazenga LuaLua and Steve Harper (Brighton and Hove Albion) are on loan, but goalkeeper Ole Söderberg has been recalled from Darlington.