The headlines continue to churn out about the obvious but Kevin Christie managed to a few other things at Hull on Saturday that might be of interest…
Tiote’s reputation precedes him
A fearsome and committed performer, Cheick Tiote is a player whose game is characterised by aggression. He has rightly earned a reputation as a tough-tackling midfield bruiser, amassing an incredible 46 yellow cards and two reds in his 109 appearances for the club.
However, while Tiote can be a little hot-headed at times, he has been making a concerted effort to curb his aggression this season and to channel it in a more productive manner.
The yellow card dished out to the Ivorian by referee Kevin Friend at the KC Stadium was undeserved, while a number of robust but fair challenges were also flagged up, undeservingly inviting pressure onto Pardew’s side.
We all know that Newcastle fans love a flair player. However, it’s worth remembering that for every game the likes of David Ginola, TinoAsprilla and Laurent Robert turned on its head with their magic and artistry, there were a couple of games when they didn’t show up at all and were carried by their team-mates.
Hatem Ben Arfa is clearly one of the most gifted footballers to have pulled on the black and white shirt in recent times but, unfortunately for him and the fans, his place in the starting XI just cannot be justified.
Yohan Cabaye’s departure has left a creative void in Newcastle’s midfield and fans & management alike had hoped that Ben Arfa would pick up the slack but it hasn’t worked out that way.
A return to a flat four in midfield has seen Newcastle win their last two games as Tiote and Anita have been solid in the middle, while Gouffran and Sissoko have put in the hard graft either side of the central pairing.
The season is far from over but Ben Arfa may well face a prolonged spell out in the cold if Newcastle keep grinding out results, and with a summer clear-out looming, he will need to make a big impact when his chance does come.
Krul’s World Cup hopes hanging in the balance
There’s no doubt that Tim Krul’s magnificent double save, just before Moussa Sissoko’s opening goal, changed the course of the game and set Newcastle up for the victory on Saturday.
However, what’s also crystal clear is that Hull’s goal just after the restart was entirely the Dutchman’s fault as he came rushing out of the 6-yard box and got nowhere near the ball.
It may seem harsh to dwell on the error but while Krul has put in some fantastic performances this season, he remains prone to the odd rush of blood and doesn’t display the consistency required of a truly top class goalkeeper.
Krul was bitterly disappointed not to make the Dutch squad this week, and his hopes of going to the World Cup now look slim, but there’s still time for him to force his way in and that can only be a good thing for Newcastle.
De Jong showing signs of life
It’s fair to say that Luuk De Jong didn’t arrive on Tyneside in great nick. His confidence was rock-bottom and he was seriously short of match fitness having been left out in the cold for much of the season at Monchengladbach.
Having made a slow start to his career at St James’ Park, the big Dutchman is now beginning to show his worth. He made an important contribution in last week’s win over Villa, and put in another impressive performance against Steve Bruce’s men as his hold-up play brought Newcastle’s midfield runners into the game, while he also did an effective shackling job on Tom Huddlestone.
While the signs are promising, De Jong is yet to register his first goal for Alan Pardew’s men. Although with games against Fulham and Crystal Palace coming up, it mightn’t be too long before the on-loan front man rediscovers his scoring touch.
Passionate Pardew bubbles over yet again
Regardless of what you think of him as a manager, there’s no doubt that Alan Pardew is a passionate man. Unfortunately, he’s showing a remarkable knack of channeling that passion in a very negative way.
It has only been a matter of weeks since the FA reminded the Newcastle boss of his responsibilities following his foul-mouthed rant against Manuel Pellegrini and he can now expect them to throw the book at him.
There is no denying that Pardew plays the media game very well and, to his credit, he hasn’t been shy in admitting his guilt and accepting responsibility when he has made such errors.
Just how long Pardew will be in charge at St James’ Park is anyone’s guess and that will be dictated by results, rather than PR gaffes, but he would do well to take a step back and look to emulate the likes of Sir Bobby Robson and Kevin Keegan, rather than Joe Kinnear, as he attempts to create his legacy at Newcastle United.