CHEICK TIOTE has made a conscious decision to curb his aggressive style because he is fed up missing games through suspension, writes Neil Cameron.
A yellow card today for the Newcastle United midfielder, against Manchester City at St James’ Park, would mean him sitting out more matches because it would take him through the disciplinary threshold.
So he is determined not to risk another needless booking.
Tiote’s competitive streak is as keen as ever, but the Ivory Coast star insisted he has learned what has been a harsh lesson.
He said: “We have so many important games coming up, which means I have to be a lot more careful.
“I have to play with more control. I try and play the same every week, but sometimes when I am ready to go for the ball I have to be certain because if I am not 100% I will be booked.
“It was different when I was in Holland – there is nowhere near as much physical contact. I prefer it in the Premier League.
“For me it’s the best because it’s more aggressive.”
Tiote revealed manager Alan Pardew felt the need to advise him to pull out of any tackle he was unsure about winning.
The final straw for Newcastle’s boss seems to have been the derby-day red card which left his side playing against Sunderland for an hour with ten men.
Tiote added: “The manager has told me that if I am not 100% I’ve not to tackle. He’s told me we have to try and keep all our players on the pitch. We need 11 against 11 if we are going to win.
“If we play with 10, we won’t win. It’s definitely easier for me to be booked because the referees know now what my style is like.
“They know I play hard so they watch me more than most. For me, that makes it difficult.”
Pardew believes a victory today against the Premier League champions would revitalise a season which in recent weeks has hit more than a few bumps in the road.
The Newcastle manager will wait until the last minute to decide whether to risk Hatem Ben Arfa and his dodgy hamstring for a match against a side which he admires. Pardew said: “City were the best away team we played last season.
“When they were at home last year they were pretty awesome and we didn’t really get a foothold in that game.
“What I do know is they will be pretty much focused on this game and therefore it probably makes it a shade more difficult.
“However, when you’re champions of the Premier League it’s a difficult game full stop.
“We took nothing off them last year but I don’t think they are as strong as they were last year coming into this game.”
Pardew added: “We are having a tough run, we don’t disguise that, but the work ethic is there.
“One big result, which could happen this weekend, could change a lot of the picture and we could find ourselves in a good position in the league.
“I am here to tell my team to win and we didn’t win against Fulham.
“Thirty four crosses and seven shots on target away from home should get you close to a victory, but we made errors in that game and we have to stop it.
“Consistency, injuries and lack of form in some players and we’ve lacked momentum which carried us through last year.
“When you’re winning games it carries you through and you don’t have to think about it.
“The workrate is there, that was there for all to see on Monday and in the last three games in particular it has been really high.
“So that’s a good base for us; there’s still a strong spirit in the group.”