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Pardew looking to avenge one of his darkest days as Magpies manager
IT was his worst day as Newcastle United boss, and Alan Pardew admits tomorrow's lunch-time game with Liverpool carries added weight because of the memories of last season's six-goal humiliation at the hands of Brendan Rodgers' side.
A fortnight after suffering a Tyne-Wear derby defeat to Sunderland, Newcastle slumped to their heaviest home defeat in the top-flight for 87 years as Liverpool ran riot at a shell-shocked St James' Park.
Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson scored two goals apiece, Daniel Agger and Fabio Borini added the others, and the Magpies found themselves in the midst of a full-blown crisis that threatened to end in relegation.
That fate was avoided when they won at QPR on the penultimate weekend of the season, but as Liverpool prepare to return to Tyneside looking to move to the top of the table for at least a couple of hours, Pardew is urging his players to right a few wrongs.
“It was one of my worst days as Newcastle boss for sure,” said the Magpies manager, who will be forced to partner Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa with Mike Williamson at centre-half in the absence of the injured Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor. “It's happened to bigger and better managers than me though – Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, they've all had those days too.
“You have to make sure that 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.
“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 certainly want to get a result more than in most games that we play.”
Back in April, Pardew was forced to contain much of his anger because of his side's perilous position close to the foot of the table.
He made four changes for the following game at West Ham – a match that resulted in a valuable point from a goalless draw – and has powerful impressions about what went wrong as Newcastle conceded four goals in the space of 22 whirlwind second-half minutes.
“It was a defeat that was off the back of a really tough week,” said Pardew. “We'd been battered by the press about losing the 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.”
The challenge now is to ensure there is no repeat of the carnage tomorrow, yet Newcastle's task is arguably more difficult this time around as Luis Suarez is available to partner Sturridge.
Suarez was only just starting his suspension for biting Branislav Ivanovic six months ago, and since returning to action at the end of last month, the Uruguayan has struck up an instantly profitable partnership with England's new number nine that has seen the pair score five goals in the space of two league matches.
While Suarez's movement and technique cause problems for defenders, Sturridge profits from making runs behind an opposition back four, and both Yanga-Mbiwa and Williamson will have to be at their best to counter their combined threat.
“It's going to be important which system dictates,” said Pardew. “They're playing with wing-backs at the moment, and I expect them to line up against us like that too. Our system has to dictate over there's.
“Playing against their system, if you drop deep and allow them to play it to feet, they can hurt you, particularly through Suarez. But if you play a high line to keep the pitch tight, you have to deal with Sturridge's pace in behind that.
“They have a nice mixture and we have to make sure we have numbers back in terms of putting cover on people because there's no doubt that Suarez and Sturridge will beat somebody at some stage.”
Coloccini sustained a groin injury while on international duty with Argentina, and the full extent of his problem is still unclear. Taylor is making progress with his recovery from a hamstring problem, but is not due to return to training until the start of next week.
Jonas Gutierrez is also unavailable for tomorrow's game as he has been granted permission to return to Argentina because of a personal issue.
“In terms of Steven being anywhere near for this game, we're not there,” confirmed Pardew. “We've had an injury to Coloccini so he won't feature either. It's a groin injury, so we'll have to see how it repairs itself over the next few days, but there's no reason why we can't cope with Colo's absence.”
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