ALAN Pardew launched a staunch defence of Newcastle United skipper Fabricio Coloccini after a damaging day that saw three new players added to his list of absentees.
Coloccini was shown a straight red card for an ugly, studs-up challenge on Luis Suarez that was branded a “coward’s challenge” by watching Wales boss Chris Coleman, who was sat in the pundit’s chair for Sky TV.
With United unlikely to appeal the red card it means Coloccini will miss three games – a sizeable blow given that James Perch faces a month on the sidelines and muscle strain victim Yohan Cabaye is also a doubt for next weekend’s home game against West Ham.
It was not what Pardew needed, although he did not condemn Coloccini’s rash challenge because he felt that it did not carry any intent.
Interestingly, it was a view that was backed up by former Magpie Michael Owen, who took to Twitter to say that it was “never” a red card.
That was the Newcastle manager’s original thought and he had marched onto the pitch at full-time to ask referee Anthony Taylor why the player had been dismissed.
But, on a second viewing, he conceded that there was probably no way to mount a cogent case for the red card to be repealed.
He said: “I didn’t see it at the time, so I was really unsure. I knew it was my captain, and I know he’s got no intent in him.
“I went to see the referee at the end because I wanted to ask him what it was for, I really didn’t know. He said it was dangerous intent, but I wanted the clarification before the referee came off the pitch.
“Looking at it on the video, it doesn’t look too good, but from another angle he’s putting his foot down to stop himself.
“Knowing Colo as I do, and I spoke to him, I don’t think there’s any malicious intent there, although we might have to accept it. I’ll discuss (an appeal) further with the secretary and everyone else at the football club.
“I told the referee that, having seen the incident, I can see why he sent him off, I have no problem with that. But it’s a blow for us to lose our captain.
“Part of me knows there was no intent with Colo, but looking at the video, I don’t really think we’ve got anywhere to go. So my gut feeling is we won’t (appeal), but I want to discuss it some more.
“I know Coloccini is a real top guy. I didn’t want to make a big issue about the referee because I think the morale of referees must be very low.
“I had no problem with his performance, it was a tough game to manage. But because it was my captain, I wanted to know (he sent him off).”
With Coloccini set to miss the next three games, Pardew is down to the bare bones as he considers selection for a midweek trip to Club Brugge that could book Newcastle’s place in the last 32 of the Europa League.
Perch’s thigh problem will rule him out for weeks, while Cabaye will also face a race against time to be fit for West Ham.
“Perch is a bad one and I think that’s going to be costly for us. I should perhaps have taken Demba off at half-time, but we wanted to see how he went and that was no good, but hopefully he’ll be all right for next weekend.
“Cabaye has a slight strain, and to come here and lose three players through injury is obviously disappointing. It was asking a lot of the players that came on in an emotional game like that.
“It’s an emotional place, and it was hurly-burly with it all going off in various parts of the pitch. So I was really pleased with the subs, I thought they all did very well.”
Meanwhile, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers (pictured below) contended that Coloccini’s sending-off was frustration boiling over.
He said: “I thought Luis Suarez was unplayable. When Coloccini got sent off it was frustration, I don’t think he could cope.
“Coloccini is a good defender and has been a good player over this past couple of years for Newcastle but Luis is so so bright, he’s so clever – he’s a real world-class striker.
“On that form he really frustrates some superb defenders.”