ALAN PARDEW thinks Newcastle United’s new-look team proved they have the mental strength to build on an opening day defeat to Manchester City after threatening to prevent the reigning champions from leaving St James’ Park with a victory.
After City had taken a first half lead through David Silva seven minutes before the break, the Magpies turned in a spirited display full of encouraging signs despite boasting four summer signings in their starting line-up.
Remy Cabella and Jack Colback were the pick of the new-boys, while Daryl Janmaat and Emmanuel Riviere showed flashes of what they could offer before young Spaniard Ayoze Perez was introduced in the second half and almost grabbed an equaliser.
But Sergio Aguero emerged from the bench to add a second for Manchester City deep in to stoppage-time, seconds after Moussa Sissoko had gone close to levelling matters, and Newcastle’s hopes of avoiding defeat on day one were dashed.
But Pardew, knowing Newcastle have a favourable run of seven fixtures ahead of them, was satisfied with the performance and is keen to see his players build on that this week ahead of Saturday’s trip to Aston Villa.
He said: “There’s a lot of things about the players I don’t know in terms of the new ones, in terms of what we’re going to get when we have a setback. I was pleased when we conceded the first goal because I thought our reaction after the first goal was fantastic.
“Those things I have to learn about the new players, they have to learn about me and how I work, all of that takes time. There’s many quotes from many Premier League managers about players needing to settle a little bit. We’ve got to introduce a lot of new players and that has to be taken a little bit into consideration in the first ten games. I still think we’re going to be a good side this year.”
Despite the positive display, Pardew realises it is another defeat for him to add on to a woeful run dating back towards the start of the year. While it was the eighth defeat in Newcastle’s last nine competitive fixtures, it was also the 12th reversal in 16 going back to February.
The horrible form at the end of last season led to calls for Pardew’s removal from sections of fans, so he knows Newcastle need to find a decent run of form – and soon. He is, though, confident that will happen.
The Newcastle boss said: “It’s always important (to put on a show of unity) … we had a difficult time at the back end of last season, but a lot of Premier League sides did and it’s important to put things in to perspective, which I think we have.
“We’ve signed some good players and now it’s a question of getting results that give us a confidence to grow. Results give you confidence. We’ll have got a certain confidence, but it’s good to get wins, especially with new players, you need that confidence in each other. That’s what we’re looking at: the next game, we’re looking to win it.
“I don’t think it’s a setback. I honestly think we’ve come up against individuals we’re not going to see every week. Some of their play is outstanding and you only have to see it close up to know the quality of Nasri, Silva, the power of Yaya Toure, and Dzeko up front is a real handful.
“I thought we coped with it as well as we could have. When you play the top teams you need a break, there’s no doubt about that. Whenever I’ve won against the top sides, you get a break in the game. It didn’t happen for us, we didn’t get a ricochet or anything that fell our away, but I’m kind of as pleased as I can be with a 2-0 defeat.”
Pardew, who would still like another striker before the end of the transfer window, does not expect anything on the transfer front any time soon. He said: “We’re still missing Papiss Cisse and Siem de Jong (through injury), two massive players for us that we’ve paid a financial outlay on.
“We feel they’re big, big players. So, no, I feel that once they’re in and around the squad as well we’re going to be difficult and I think we’ll score goals. I think Siem will be close next week.”
But Pardew was impressed with the manner of Cabella’s first outing in the Premier League. The £7m buy from Montpellier created a number of chances and could have scored himself.
He said: “Remy’s a little bit like Nasri and Silva for Man City; he has that quality on the corners of the boxes to take that extra second, that extra moment to make the pass. I was really pleased with him. I thought he might struggle against the champions, but he coped quite well and that was really pleasing. He added: “You have to take the fact he was up against the champions into consideration. I thought we, as a team, you could see there was a good spirit there, we really worked hard and we had to.”