Cheick Tiote has told his Newcastle United team-mates to put Sunday’s Wear-Tyne derby defeat behind them, insisting they did not do much wrong in the 2-1 reverse.
The Ivorian was the Magpies’ captain at the Stadium of Light, and is likely to keep the armband for tomorrow’s League Cup tie at home to Manchester City, which Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor are again expected to miss through injury.
The cup tie takes on added importance now Newcastle have lost back-to-back derbies for the first time in 46 years, and Tiote has called on his players to stick together.
“It is difficult to sum up my feelings (about Sunday’s game) because we were the better side, we lost the game to a sloppy goal,” he reflected. “That’s football. We have to stay focused now and think about the next game. We deserved more than what we got at Sunderland. We played better than Sunderland, but you have to take what comes. Then you move on and try to make up for it.
“Every time we play against Sunderland it is tough, but we did the right things. We conceded a goal we did not deserve to.”
The pressure on tomorrow’s game will be increased because Newcastle will be playing in front of home fans hurting from Sunday’s result.
This newspaper has also unwittingly contributed, with the Magpies’ ham-fisted attempts to stop reporters from The Journal and its sister title the Chronicle bringing the club’s ban of the NCJ Media’s titles – which we had not publicised during derby week – into the open.
The majority of Newcastle fans have long made it clear they value silverware over good Premier League finishes.
Manchester City will not want to lose either, having been defeated by Chelsea hours later, bringing their away form this season into sharp focus. “It is a tough game for us also,” said Tiote. “They are a big side. It will be difficult.
“We have to stick together and make sure we win this game.”
Tiote, one of Newcastle’s best performers on Sunday, is acutely aware of the responsibility on his shoulders. Having worn the captain’s armband since Coloccini picked up a groin injury training with Argentina, the 27-year-old has produced his best performances of the season. “It’s important as the captain that you lead by example,” he said. “I try that when I wear the captain’s armband. I try to do things in the right way.
“I’m really disappointed that we lost this game, we stayed together and played well. We have to make sure we all stay compact and are ready for the next game.”
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew blamed Sunderland’s winner, scored by Fabio Borini with six minutes remaining, on a foul referee Lee Probert awarded against Tiote in the build-up.
The midfielder agreed with his manager that a free-kick should not have been given. “It was not a foul by me because I did not touch him,” Tiote said. “The referee gave a foul, (Steven) Fletcher took the quick free-kick and they moved forward and scored.
“We can’t go back on what has happened, we have to move on.”
Tiote had his own off-field distractions to contend with yesterday, after admitting using a forged Belgian licence to obtain a UK one at Newcastle Crown Court. Tiote was given a seven-month suspended sentence and also received a £600 fine.