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Europa win would see manager handed freedom of Tyneside
11:43am Friday 15th March 2013 in Sport
WHEN Guus Hiddink led South Korea to the semifinals of the 2002 World Cup he was made an honorary citizen of Seoul, just as he also was in Eindhoven after leading PSV to a triple crown 14 years earlier in his managerial career.
The former Holland and Australia boss has also had his face on a postage stamp to acknowledge his achievements in the game.
But last night the Anzhi Makhachkala boss, gracious in defeat as he shook the hands of every Newcastle player at the final whistle, looked on in envy, as this was a night for Alan Pardew.
When Hiddink got his hands on the European Cup in 1988, Pardew had just completed a transfer to Crystal Palace – last night it was the Newcastle United manager edging close to Europa League glory.
Courtesy of Papiss Cisse’s dramatic, late header with the last touch of the 90 minutes, Pardew’s dreams of winning the competition lives on. If he can deliver, it could be the man from Wimbledon afforded the freedom of Tyneside.
This was a chance for Pardew to take on one of the greats of the modern game.
With a glittering managerial CV, Hiddink took this game in his stride.
Frequently there would be emotion; arms waving in the air in disgust at a decision or a missed opportunity. But for the most part, he simply weighed up what was before him, informing players what he wanted from them.
Tactically he seemed to have gained the upperhand.
Had it not been for Steven Taylor’s defensive doggedness to keep Anzhi out, Newcastle would have been behind.
In going like for like, Pardew seemed almost shocked by the way his team failed to deal with the counter-attacking threat of the Magpies’ opponents.
From the moment rightback Andrei Eschenko was allowed to charge from deep to cut through the heart of the Newcastle midfield in the opening minutes, it was clear Hiddink was not going to sit tight.
With his grey sweatpants and matching tracksuit top beneath his winter coat, the 66-year-old might not have had the look of one of the game’s finest tacticians. Yet with Samuel Eto’o showing Cisse for the most part how to lead the line as a lone striker, the Dutch coach had the upperhand.
But a combination of two things swung the balance slowly in Newcastle’s favour.
What might have seemed a great loss when Yohan Cabaye was forced off through injury ten minutes before half-time, actually helped.
The introduction of Jonas Gutierrez meant Moussa Sissoko could slip inside to support Cisse and suddenly Newcastle had greater purpose going forward.
When Moroccan Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez picked up two yellow cards in the first nine minutes of the second half, the probability of Pardew celebrating a quarter-final spot dramatically increased.
While members of the Anzhi backroom team appeared ruffled, Hiddink remained calm and collected.
No panic, choosing to boldly keep Mbark Boussoufa up front alongside Eto’o.
Such a decision is the mark of the man. But then Pardew decided to make his own statement by offering up 18-year-old Adam Campbell as a second striker to make Hiddink think.
Pardew’s greatest achievement so far has been to guide Newcastle into the Europa League by finishing fifth, earning him the Premier League and LMA manager of the year awards.
Albeit with the help of the German officials, Campbell’s introduction had his acclaimed counterpart – boasting six Dutch titles, four domestic cups and a European Cup – desperately trying to keep Newcastle at bay.
It looked like his great plan had worked. Then Cisse, rising between the outstanding Joao Carlos and Ewerton, intervened with a winner.
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