Alan Pardew has called on his Newcastle stars to deliver a heightened response to one of his “worst days” as United manager.
The Magpies boss insists a side without Fabricio Coloccini, but better-equipped to attack than that which succumbed 6-0 to Liverpool at the end of last season, will carry more threat to the Reds at St James’ Park on Saturday.
Capitulation on home soil in April – just a fortnight after a 3-0 defeat in the Tyne-Wear derby and with relegation still a real possibility – left Newcastle damaged “psychologically”, Pardew admits.
Though they recovered sufficiently to stay in the Premier League, Parew says enough pain lingers to add weight to tomorrow’s game and motivation among his players.
Of them, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is likely to partner Mike Williamson in central defence, with Coloccini ruled out by a groin injury sustained on World Cup duty with Argentina and Steven Taylor (hamstring) yet to return to full training.
Pardew – who also revealed Jonas Gutierrez has returned to Argentina due to a “personal issue” – will “wait and see” the extent of his club captain’s injury, but added “there’s no reason why we cannot cope with Colo’s absence”.
Demanding a response to Liverpool’s last visit to Tyneside, the Newcastle manager believes his team are in good shape to offer stronger resistance this time.
“It was one of my worst days as Newcastle boss,” said Pardew, who chose against commenting on tomorrow’s planned march in protest against Mike Ashley.
“You have to make sure there’s a response in the next game and we managed to get ourselves out of that hole fortunately, but it was a tough day and off the back of a really tough week.
“We’d been battered by the press about losing the (Tyne-Wear) derby and psychologically we weren’t in a great place.
“Therefore, me coming in and being hyper-critical probably wasn’t going to help. It was about being logical about how it happened and making sure we got the team over the line, which we managed to do.
“At that point, it was looking dangerous for us and when you get a defeat like that you have to really make sure you’re on your mettle.
“It probably kicks you into gear to make some changes.”
Not to mention seeking solace among family.”
Pardw added: “Just being around your family and your kids helps.
“They know how to deal with you. I don’t think my little un’ asked me to play netball the next day. She usually gets me out there, but I think it’s probably taken on board by your family and friends.
“Does this carry a bit more weight because of what happened?
“I think that’s probably true. If there isn’t an extra bit of fire in the bellies of some of our players then there’ll be something wrong.
“There’ll be quite a few players playing who played on that day and I’d be disappointed if they don’t respond. That’s what you like to see. I want to get a result more than in most games we play.”
Pardew added: “I’ve also had some good days against Liverpool. My first game was special (in December 2010), and the victory over them (in April 2012) was a sweet one as well.
“Yet against a big club like Liverpool, you can’t expect to have it all your own way. You just have to be strong, and be bold in your own opinions of what you’re doing.
“Since I’ve been here, I like to think I’ve set teams up to play an attractive style of football and win games on the front foot.
“At the back end of last year, I thought we put ourselves into a position where it was difficult to set teams up like that as I didn’t think we were carrying enough threat.
“This year, I don’t think that. I think we carry a lot of threat and therefore we just need to get the shape of the team and the defending side of things nailed down. If we can do that, we’re going to score goals.”