The scoreline might not suggest it, but Alan Pardew believes his presence on the touchline did have a bearing on Monday night’s game at Arsenal.
The Newcastle United manager was in the dugout for the first time in eight matches after serving a suspension for headbutting Hull City’s David Meyler.
Pardew had pointed to his absence from the sidelines as part of the problem for his side’s recent poor form – most notably when he claimed he could have prevented Swansea City’s winning goal at St James’s Park.
A number of former professionals have backed up his assertion that players respond with less intensity when their manager is not barking instructions from the touchline.
The Magpies won only one of the games Pardew was suspended for, although in truth their form was simply the continuation of a post-Christmas malaise. Newcastle were beaten 3-0 at the Emirates this week but more alarming was the lethargy in their performance. Pardew, though, felt he detected an improvement.
“It always makes a difference because we are a team and it is important the manager has a voice on the side,” he said.
“There are a couple of times you need to control a player if he has made a mistake or done something good, to reinforce some belief in them.” The defeat was Newcastle’s sixth in a row, a run they have not experienced in the top-flight since the days of Willie McFaul.
With their final game this season at the home of title-chasing Liverpool, it adds extra pressure on Saturday’s visit of demoralised Cardiff City. Pardew was not ducking from the importance of that match to his team. Win it and they could secure the top-ten finish which is their stated aim for the campaign.
“I am disappointed we have ended up with a defeat (on Monday) but I think overall we have no injuries so Saturday is an important game for us,” he said. “We need to focus on that to get ourselves a win.”
Some supporters have floated the idea of a walk-out from Saturday’s game, the last at home this season.
There were discussions on social media yesterday about whether fans should leave after an hour.
The disquiet on the internet in the second half of the season has been in contrast to the quiet on the terraces.
Although there were a number of anti-Pardew banners on view at Monday’s game, home matches have been remarkably well attended and there have been few chants against the under-pressure manager.