ALAN PARDEW is confident Emmanuel Riviere will prove a success in a Newcastle United shirt, but has warned the Frenchman to expect another tough afternoon against the massed ranks of the Crystal Palace defence.
With the Magpies still looking for another centre-forward ahead of Monday night’s transfer deadline, Riviere has been forced to shoulder the majority of his side’s attacking responsibilities in the opening three games of the season.
The 24-year-old is still to open his goalscoring account following a £6.5m move from Monaco, but there have been mitigating factors behind his failure to find the net.
His opening-weekend chances were limited against a top-class Manchester City side, while both Aston Villa and Gillingham packed their defence and played at least one deep-lying midfielder in an attempt to prevent Riviere from using his pace to get behind the opposition back four.
With new Crystal Palace boss Neil Warnock desperate to avoid defeat in the opening fixture of his second spell in charge of the Eagles, space is likely to be at a premium again this afternoon, and Pardew has warned Riviere to expect another challenging 90 minutes.
“Gillingham were very defensive, and Aston Villa went very defensive in the second half too and didn’t give us a lot of space,” said the Newcastle boss. “It’s very difficult for a number nine to score when teams pack the defence.
“I think this game (against Palace) will be difficult for him because it’ll be the same. I think it’ll be a penalty, a set play or maybe a shot from the edge of the area or a ricochet where we hopefully score.”
Nevertheless, while he continues to pursue alternative attacking options in the hope of pulling off a deal in the final three days of the transfer window, Pardew remains confident Riviere will adapt to English football and prove a success in a black-and-white shirt.
“I have no worries about Manu,” he said. “There will be more games where he gets more room when teams start to take the front foot or when we are behind, that’s when I think we’ll see the best of him.
“I think it’s important with strikers that you give them all the information you think they need, and that he knows where I think he should be on Saturday.
“But you also want him to play with his own individual flair so you can’t pigeon hole him too much. I think he’s in good shape and if the Gillingham lad (John Egan) didn’t score the own goal, Manu had a tap in so he was a bit unfortunate there. I don’t worry about him - he’s a good player.”
Pardew was linked with the Crystal Palace job after Tony Pulis was removed from his position on the eve of the season, but the Magpies manager insists he was never interested in returning to Selhurst Park, where he spent four successful seasons as a player.
Warnock’s appointment has changed the dynamic of this afternoon’s game, and Newcastle will have to be wary of Palace’s players gaining impetus from the arrival of a new manager.
Last season, the Magpies suffered an FA Cup defeat to Cardiff City just days after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had been installed as the new boss of the Bluebirds, and Pardew will warn his players not to be complacent despite Palace having lost their opening two league games.
“It (Warnock’s arrival) is going to make a difference, like Solskjaer did with Cardiff,” he said. “I think that game would have been over with the old manager, no disrespect to Malky (Mackay). But with a new manager there, the subs came on and made an impact, and we’ve got to face that when we face Palace.
“With the sort of turmoil that has happened there, I think Neil is probably a good choice. He has the experience to deal with the fact that they need to stay in the Premier League to grow as a club. They have had one year, but that doesn’t really count. It is such an advantage to be in the Premier League at the moment with the money and I am sure they will invest to try to stay there.”
Warnock has a reputation as one of the more combustible managers in English football, but having received a lengthy ban in the wake of last season’s head-butting incident with David Meyler, Pardew insists he is doing all he can to keep his own emotional outbursts to a minimum.
“I’m a changed man this year, and I think it’s important I’ve shown that since the incident,” he said. “I limit my time on the sidelines because I’m passionate and I want to win the game. I’m not going to change that, but I will try to keep it under wraps to a degree.”
With Cheick Tiote still unavailable because of injury, Vurnon Anita will continue to partner Jack Colback at the heart of the Newcastle midfield.