ALAN PARDEW is ready to try something different at Stamford Bridge this afternoon in the hope of watching Newcastle United spring a surprise and ease some of the pain lingering from the Tyne-Wear derby.
The Magpies boss was full of smiles and looked a relaxed figure after another typically eventful week at St James' Park in which Joe Kinnear lost his job as director football.
On top of Kinnear's resignation, Newcastle lost 3-0 to Sunderland on home soil, fans protested against the Mike Ashley regime and Pardew had to deal with questions over his lack of transfer involvement.
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But Pardew looked a far more content figure in his pre-match briefing at the club's training ground to that which saw him have to deal uncomfortably with post-derby questions in the wake of the Sunderland collapse.
And having suffered so badly in the first match after the completed sale of Yohan Cabaye to Paris St Germain, Pardew is thinking about mixing things up against Premier League title contenders Chelsea today.
The Newcastle manager said: "I do think that the timing of that game with Sunderland was difficult for us because of the Cabaye loss and our tactical game plan. We are looking for something different and I have to get that in play as quickly as I can.
"I did think that on reflection, on the day, we weren't composed in areas you need to be composed in. Clearances for example. Or being around the 18-yard box and waiting that extra half second to make the final pass. All those moments we got wrong against Sunderland and that happens sometimes.
"Maybe we did have a bit too much emotion on the pitch. The last defeat (to Sunderland) was the last really poor result we had as a team. Maybe that was on our minds. You can't use that as an excuse. The attribute you have to have is how you're going to go forward.”
If Chelsea can overcome Newcastle this afternoon then there is a chance the Blues will be sitting top of the Premier League table tonight.
Yet, despite being in such a strong position with 14 matches remaining, Jose Mourinho still suggested after defeating Manchester City on Monday that they should not be considered too seriously for the title just yet.
Pardew is having none of it. He said: "I'm surprised with that. That Mourinho has come up with that suggestion after seeing them Monday night ... he's got no striker, so he's probably correct! He usually is. I was joking there by the way - of course they can win it.”
The Newcastle manager has the utmost respect for his opposite number today. He said: “Most weeks is a tactical masterclass from Mourinho, of course he walks on water.”
He added: “It's a professional relationship we have. I don't go out for dinner with him. I don't buy him wine or drinks. I admire him because what he's done in the game.
"But the most important thing is when I stand next to him on Saturday I'm not having any friendship with him. He knows that. I want to beat him. At the moment this year (season) it's 1-0 to me!
"He's brilliant for the Premier League. I do love him. I do love him for what he brings. We all love him - or mostly.
"You don't get the record he's got of winning trophies unless you have a very, very sharp intellect. I think it was interesting what he said this week. He's had a few managers pass under him, working under him as I have had. But they can never take your DNA as a manager.
"You can do the same sessions, the same this and that but at the end of the day it's what happens in the dressing room during those really crucial moments that matter. He gets those right more often than he gets them wrong.”
Chelsea's task looks to have been made easier today with Cheik Tiote joining Fabricio Coloccini and Yoan Gouffran on the Newcastle treatment table. Striker Papiss Cisse is also unlikely to return after ankle trouble.
Pardew said: "We've done a lot of work on the training ground all based around Chelsea and we did even more on Friday on Chelsea - although obviously it was a lighter day, we'll talk. It's all geared along those lines to make sure we put in a performance out there that represents the shirt.”